Once upon a time in the winter of 2002, the Midnight Kitchen was born out of the momentum of the Anti-Globalization movement. Several of the Midnight Kitchen’s founders, mainly McGill University students who came to Montreal in 2001, had spent the previous year organizing the Quebec City Free Trade of the Americas (April 2001) and founding Graspé (a network at McGill student activists teaching each other about different issues such as anti-globalization etc) in the fall of 2001. The Midnight Kitchen had its roots in the “food committee” of Grasp, whose purpose was to cook large quantities of food to serve at GRASP demonstrations. People then began contemplating the possibility of serving food on a regular basis as a way to resist and create an alternative to the Chartwell corporation’s attempts to monopolize the distribution of food on the McGill University campus.
The Midnight Kitchen was born out of a desire to make affordable and healthy food accessible to as many people as possible outside of the mainstream capitalist food system, and to empower people in being able to take control over their own food and health. The Midnight Kitchen’s founders recognized the capacity of food to become a powerful organizing and community-building project. And so the Midnight Kitchen began.
A year after the project began, the Midnight Kitchen became a service of the Students Society of McGill University (SSMU) and has remained so ever since. This means that we are financially tied to SSMU and that we are able to operate out of the Shatner building for free. As a service, we are mandated to serve the entire student population, which we attempt to do.
Members of the Midnight Kitchen were instrumental in lobbying for and helping design the kitchen that is now found on the 3rd floor of Shatner. At a General Assembly during the fall semester, 2006, a proposal was passed to grant the Midnight Kitchen full access to and autonomy over this kitchen, which makes operations out of this room much simpler.
In 2007 and 2008 the Midnight Kitchen grew substantially, both in the number of meals served each week and our volunteer base. In the Spring semester of 2007, we successfully campaigned for a student levy of $1.25 per student each each semester. This allowed us to hire paid positions, diversify our food selection, and improve our kitchen facilities. In Fall of 2013, a referendum passed increasing our fee-levy to $3.25 per student each semester.
Currently we are putting energies into organizing non-mixed dinners for marginalized folks, and we are collaborating with the Family Care Coordinator at SEDE to offer a monthly collective kitchen for student parents at McGill. As a collective, we host workshops throughout the year and support projects and events that fit within our mandate.