Revamped Museum Volunteer Lunch Program

Story and Photos by Steve Finkelman

Linda Forbes, doing what she loves best.

If you talk to volunteers around the hangar, they will be quick to tell you about a delicious change at the museum within the past few months.

It’s all due to the culinary expertise of Linda Forbes.

For years, the museum has run a lunch program to feed hungry volunteers who work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It was largely operated by a community group which ran the program in support of their clients with special needs. Unfortunately, the program faltered this summer due to a series of staff changes and a new plan was needed.

Enter Forbes, a long-time member of 418 (City of Edmonton) Squadron Association, who volunteered to step in and run the program.

“Initially, I was going to do Tuesdays only, starting in July and August. But I circulated a questionnaire and one of the volunteers said, ‘What about the people on Thursdays.’ So, it became Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

The regular menu is home-made soup along with sandwich fixings and a desert for $5.00. Not content to provide the routine, Forbes has offered such delicacies as chili and jambalaya and is looking at branching out to other more exotic offerings.  Her hand-made desserts are fit for a banquet.

Forbes and assistant, Anna Turchet, preparing a noon-time meal.

“The feedback has been truly awesome. One of the wonderful things about cooking for people is having them appreciate your work.”

Forbes is no stranger to the kitchen. 

“In our household, cooking was mandatory. My mother said, ‘I’m a busy woman. We’ve got four kids. Start learning how to cook.’ “

Forbes got involved in the military in 1974 when she joined 418 Squadron as a part-time administrative clerk. In 1980, she got the chance to serve full time for six months in Lahr, Germany. She retired from the military after 16 years and has since been a long time member of 418 Squadron Association – one of the museum’s member groups. Along the way, she began her own small catering business and has been in charge of the museum’s annual Christmas Dinner for volunteers for the past three years.

Forbes credits her two assistants, Anne Turchet and Daniel Alstrom, for helping serve the several dozen regulars who show up for the twice-weekly lunch.

The program is covering its costs and even making a small profit, Forbes says. She is happy to be able to meet the need of the museum and the volunteers and she is doing what she loves to do.

A full house of volunteers and staff at the twice-weekly lunch.

“Cooking relaxes me. I am so busy concentrating, I don’t have time for anything else.”