More than 430 people lined up for Sunday Community Dinner on January 7.
Dessert was mango and vanilla ice cream.
The Community Dinner tradition stretches back 21 years, when the Jasper Community Team and other local agencies wanted to fill a gap left by a lack of business in the town.
Jasper, ever-dependent on its visitor economy, had very little snow to offer its skiing clientele in 2003. Consequently, lift operators and other tourism staff were out of work.
By providing a by-donation meal, local agencies wanted to create support for that stressed out part of the community, Director of Community Development Christopher Read said.
“After that first week, the benefit to the community was clear,” Read told CBC’s Daybreak Alberta at this time last year.
Since then, every Sunday throughout the winter, different Jasper businesses, non-profit organizations and agencies take turns creating the dinner.
A regular cadre of volunteers help with set-up, bussing, dishwashing and take-down.
The Municipality of Jasper provides the seed funding and a staff member for coordination, but otherwise, the donations cover the program’s costs.
“Those that can contribute, donate,” Read said. “There’s obviously no judgement.”
Read told Daybreak Alberta host Paul Karchut that the key to the program’s longevity has been its community building capacity.
“In a well-connected community you have to have time together,” Read said. “Breaking bread together is a great way to do that.”
Next Sunday’s Community Dinner (January 14) will be hosted by the Raven Bistro.