On a mellow Thursday, March 23 morning, the UFV University Christian Ministries (UCM) flipped their last pancake. UCM hosted a weekly free pancake breakfast open to all students for nearly eight years. They recently decided that serving pancakes wasn’t best serving their purpose.
“When we first started out seven years ago, it was exactly what we wanted to be,” said Joy Penner, president of UCM. “We could make the pancakes, but we also had people there that could start discussions and make relationships with people coming out for pancakes.”
This last year, the pancake breakfast grew to serve up to 200 people in a morning — a number that exceeded what was optimum for volunteers to engage in conversation and discuss life.
“You couldn’t really stop making pancakes,” said Penner. “So it was harder to cultivate the relationships that we really wanted to make.”
Although the pancakes are no more, UCM’s goals of reaching the UFV community haven’t been flattened. In the fall, UCM will host “Alpha,” an evangelical course which focuses on introducing basic Christian faith concepts, and developing communities through meetings and discussions.
“What we do at Alpha is serve dinner, a whole meal, and get people to sit down and watch videos that bring up a relevant topic,” said Penner. “Then we discuss it over a meal with other people.”
UCM will partner with a few local churches to put on the Alpha course.
“This way we get to not only feed our fellow students, but also create relationships with them, and also start really relevant discussions with them about life, about God, about all of these things,” Penner said.
In the past, the pancake breakfast faced some challenges against ongoing approval. Fraser Health required the kitchen to have a dedicated hand wash station, which it didn’t. They also wanted the pancake ingredients to be listed and available to anyone eating, as well as Foodsafe certification for some of the cooks.
Penner said that the policy issues didn’t affect their decision to stop making pancakes, but it was at that time they decided to explore other options.
The way it panned out, the Student Union Building kitchen got a sink shortly after UCM decided to not continue pancake breakfasts.
“This has been on my heart for a very long time, that we should be moving away from pancakes. The hand washing sink was kind of just another thing to make it clear that we should try something else.”