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Volunteer-run Bizzzy Bea’s hopes to reopen kitchen for the homeless after PHSD shutdown

‘We are still trying to get this figured out, but we will be coming back bigger and better,’ says founder

After 18 months of serving meals to Sudbury's vulnerable population, volunteer-run Bizzzy Bea’s recently had their kitchen shut down by Public Health Sudbury and Districts. 

It was due to what founder and executive director Chantelle Dupuis (Roy) told was her “full-hearted impression” that she did not need to cook the meals in an inspected kitchen when they were given to those in need, rather than sold. 

She acknowledges the error, has stopped serving meals, and is relying on donations of pre-packaged goods to serve the people currently living in encampments across the city.  

With the assistance of PHSD, and the work of the almost 40 volunteers that help prepare the approximately five to six hundred meals they serve each week, Dupuis said the team will be back on their feet in no time. 

Dupuis said she began Bizzzy Bea’s —named for her grandmother,  who “always took people in her home, fed them, and made sure they were taken care of,” — when she found a social media post offering free food. 

She tried to offer it to local organizations, hoping to feed those who were homeless, but she said it was refused, as it was an unknown source. 

Dupuis said that while she understood that, she still found the desire to help, so she just started cooking. One meal turned into 14,000 meals, and when she is officially working out of an inspected kitchen, Dupuis hopes for 14,000 more. 

There are currently four volunteer cooks, two are trained chefs and all four possess safe-food handling certification. Bizzzy Bea’s recently fundraised through the use of a calendar, each month showcasing a different local business, and in return, the business would pay one month of their rent at the tiny but beloved “Beahive.”  

Bizzzy Bea’s also now has a website, and they are putting together plans to get a kitchen up and running. 

Dupuis said that the encampments they visit are made up of what she calls “regulars,” those she sees often, and new people. She said there are people in the encampments asking about services and where to find them. 

Over the 18 months since they opened, Dupuis said the Bizzzy Bea’s volunteers have moved to prioritize those who are homeless and “yet to be reached.” 

She said that they focus their efforts on those who may not have had access to outreach or social services as yet, and do so by going directly to the encampments. “What the Elgin Street Mission does and what the Blue Door Soup Kitchen does is phenomenal, and so we really try and focus on the people that can't make those scheduled times or can't make it downtown,” said Dupuis. “We focus on the yet-to-be-reached people.”

Dupuis said those living in encampments make up about 90 per cent of the people they serve; the rest are those for whom they work to “fill the fridge.” When one of their regulars gets housing, they will put together everything that person needs to fill their fridge. They also put together Christmas gift drives and toiletry drives.

While they complete their search for a new kitchen, Bizzzy Bea’s and Dupuis are hoping for the donations, including pre-packaged food to be handed out to the people living in the encampments. “We are still trying to get this figured out,” said Dupuis. “But we will be coming back bigger and better.”

You can find out more by visiting their website here