When people are struggling, Pam King gives them comfort food.
The Lac La Hache proprietor of Pam’s Food Services has spent the past three weeks serving up free breakfasts to wildfire evacuees across the South Cariboo. It might be eggs with bacon, ham and sausage one day or French Toast the next. Last week, she whipped up eggs benny for the masses.
“Sometimes we do fried bologna and eggs,” King said. “That surprised me how well that went over.”
King decided to start offering breakfasts to evacuees, remembering how hard it was for her during the 2017 wildfires when she had to leave her home with her 37-year-old daughter who has Down’s Syndrome. Most of the current evacuees come from areas around 83 Mile or 93 Mile, chased out by the fast-moving Flat Lake wildfire, and are living in the local motels or in camper vans.
“It’s been very touching and heartwrenching,” King said. “In the first week, by the time Sunday came around, I was just a mess. By the time I had my day off, I was a basket case.”
She’s not sure how much food they have served up but estimates they have gone through hundreds of dozens of eggs since they started cooking free breakfasts every morning. Evacuees eat for free, while locals who want a bite to eat are asked to provide a donation toward the cause.
“People have been donating eggs and bacon, they have jumped on board wanting to help out,” King said. “It’s been good.”
King, who previously owned a bakery and deli, is no stranger to feeding the community. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, she decided to start cooking in her home to feed all the truckers who had nowhere to stop to get a bite on the road.
When the Interior Health shut her down, she bought a food truck after her friends gave her a deal on the price. Shortly after, she got the opportunity to use the kitchen of the former Edelweiss Restaurant – now the office for mobile home sales – on Highway 97 where she cooks up everything from frozen comfort meals, such as cabbage rolls and lasagne to hearty soups, as well as baked goods, salads, sandwiches and birthday cakes. She also runs a catering service.
“Everything fell into place,” she said.
King said she was “slammed” from day one when she decided to serve take-out Chinese food. She made $3,200 in three hours and has been busy ever since. On Fridays, she usually whips up a batch of fish and chips. One dollar from every order sold goes toward the Christmas hamper campaign. She has already collected close to $400 this year.
“It’s been unreal. I love it,” she said. “It keeps me grounded. I’ve had so many people be so kind to me. I tell people I’m not really doing anything different. I come in and I cook and I get to meet all these people and they get into my heart.”
Once the wildfires have been extinguished, King said she would like to do something else for the community, perhaps hold burger nights to raise money for the school lunch program.
Besides cooking up breakfasts, King has collected food and clothing donations for the people of Lytton. As they are not accepting donations anymore, she said she has bagged up what’s left and it will go where it is needed later this year.
“I’ve been so blessed with this opportunity. I’ve struggled the last few years myself,” she said. “I just kind of feel it’s time to give back a little bit.”