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New Food Initiative: Work Kitchen

By Bill Trempus

In early April, Chiang Mai was engulfed in a third wave of Covid-19 infection, with a new, more infectious variant. In-person dining in restaurants and bars, permitted for several months, was restricted to take-out or home delivery of food and many restaurants simply shutdown. Gyms, movie theaters, spas, pools and massage parlours were closed and once again many local residents found themselves out of work. However, unlike a year ago, there weren't the free food distribution programs evident at temples and some businesses. Yet people are hungry.

As we did a year ago, Chiang Mai International Rotary Club realized we had to help hungry local residents. Rotarians Bill T. and Nicha researched several programs, with on-site visits and, based on their recommendation, the CMIRC Board recently decided to contribute each month to the Work Kitchen Project in Muang (central) Chiang Mai. This program was recommended by our long-time partner Sallo Polak, the founder of Philanthropy Connections Foundation.

The Work Kitchen Project isn't just a food give-away. Instead, it helps poor families and others who may be disabled or homeless, to earn their own money (200 THB per day) by doing work in their community while providing lunch during work hours. This project is managed by Opor Akira, who runs Chiang Mai Trust. Some of us may know him as the owner and manager of the popular North Gate Jazz Co-op. He's committed to improving Chiang Mai through Chiang Mai Trust, which works with The Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Museum, Chiang Mai University, Community Gardens and community leaders. Opor believes "it's important for the community to have the collective memories and feeling of how and what they can do to make change for community with their own hands".

CMIRC is supporting the residents in a location behind Chiang Mai Ram Hospital and Kad Suan Kaew mall. It's shown on the map within the red markers. It's just one of several communities that are part of the Work Kitchen Project. They have the support of Thai PBS and hope that with this publicity they can expand so more communities can help themselves. At this location, the program costs about 10,000 THB per week, so our support covers about 50% of the cost. Additional donations would be welcome. Bill T. and Nicha will be visiting the project and reporting on progress from time-to-time.


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