Picking life’s lessons from the jelly bean jar

Former United States president Ronald Reagan once said that you could tell a lot about a fellow’s character by his way of eating jelly beans. The jelly bean president stumbled off the catwalks of Hollywood and into the Oval Office, a jelly bean jar in tow.
By promoting the image of rainbow-coloured sugar beans, Reagan was able to capture the hearts and votes of American society with a food item that promoted taking pride in life’s simple choices.
Combining hope and pride within the framework of a capitalist market is a sometimes elusive vision, but as Canada’s health care system wanes, the national dream of a strong, inclusive social safety net is still alive in some Canadian microcosms, particularly at the community level and through the motif of food.
Proof of this can be found on the oft disregarded corner of Belgrave and Sherbrooke, where Chez mes Amis, a community kitchen in the erratic borough of N.D.G., serves up wholesome meals to those who are looking for simple cheer.
“We get the poor, the elderly, people with psychological difficulties and even students,” said the kitchen’s coordinator Jean-Marc Bergon.
At two dollars a pop, the organization offers meals at a symbolic price to those who have fallen down in life for whatever reason.
Beckoning community residents to come and eat nutritious food, the volunteer staff invites people in from the cold, to stuff them like children, into a warm amaut.
“By boosting morale you can come out of a depression,” said Bergon. He added that many of those who visit the kitchen have faced the effects of rejection and isolation that poverty can bring with it. They are young and old, zippy and frail. Unique individuals, some of whom are putting problems of alcohol and drug dependence behind them to begin life again, finding hope under a common roof at Chez mes Amis.
“Le seul r

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