Hot food, cheerful decorations and good company are the hallmarks of a new community potluck program that is helping low-income families in Nanaimo, B.C.

This potluck dinner is held at Nanaimo Community Church on the third Friday of every month, a week before the B.C. government issues income and disability assistance cheques.

The program is the result of a proposal made by a corps member at a meeting of the Home League in October 2011.

“At first, the idea of doing a monthly potluck seemed unreal and challenging, taking into account that Home League attendance is 13-15, on average,” says Captain Tatiana Kachanova, corps officer. “But everyone was inspired by the idea of reaching out to individuals and families from the community.”

Since October, the corps has held a potluck every month. The event has grown from 75 attendees to 114 at the most recent dinner in April. About two thirds of the attendees are corps members, while the rest are guests from the community.

“Our main focus is to serve those in need, so we have single mothers and low-income families with many children,” says Captain Kachanova. “Regular attendees of our midweek children's programs often bring their school friends.”

The Home League has adopted the potluck as their community outreach project, supporting the dinners through various fundraisers. Home League and other corps members bring main dishes and sides to the potluck, while The Salvation Army New Hope Centre donates bread and desserts.

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