Midnight Kitchen (MK) resumed operations last Friday after resolving misunderstandings with SSMU over the collective’s certification under the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec, which resulted in a two-day hiatus.
MK volunteer Kayle Towsley broadcasted news of the reopening over the group’s volunteer listserv on Thursday, saying that the certification issued last year was still valid, and that re-certification was no longer an immediate concern.
“There has been a lot of confusion with SSMU. We thought we had to certify new people with food safety training, but it turns out our certification from last year is still valid, but just had to be re-submitted,” she wrote in the email obtained by The Daily.
Volunteer coordinator Carol Fraser explained that two MK members had received Institut de technologie agroalimentaire (ITA) certification last April and that it was valid “for life.” The certification numbers were mailed directly to the individuals and therefore not obtained by SSMU, which needed them for renewal.
“It’s been a learning curve for everybody…there wasn’t enough dialogue and the closure was a matter of miscommunication between us,” she added.
SSMU general manager Pauline Gervais, who oversees the Shatner building’s operations, and SSMU VP Clubs and Services
Anushay Khan approached MK volunteers on Tuesday, telling them that the collective had to cease operations until they acquired a new permit.
Khan explained SSMU’s confusion: “We had thought the collective increased to more than 20 people, [meaning that] more than two people would need to be registered, but it turns out that only ten to twelve people are involved in cooking, so only two people are needed,” she said.
Khan and Gervais have since called the registry and submitted the existing certification numbers for renewal. This means MK can resume its operations without any risk of being fined.
Serving food and alcohol is permitted in Shatner as outlined by SSMU’s Memorandum of Agreement with the University, but the ITA certificate is a requirement for any group that prepares food.
Fraser added that “this has not been an isolated instance between us and SSMU – the new legislation is effecting soup kitchens everywhere.”
The People’s Potato, which offers a similar service at Concordia, went through the same process.
Several MK members involved with Organic Campus, the locally grown food stand that was shut down under similar circumstances last Wednesday, guessed that it would also reopen after similar paperwork processing.