Centre for Immigrant and Community Services providing free traditional Chinese New Year food to new immigrants

With the Spring Festival approaching, the Centre for Immigrant and Community Services (CICS) is giving 120 traditional dishes to new immigrants to celebrate the big day.

"Pen Cai" is a traditional dish served in Hong Kong during Chinese New Year. The name of the dish literally means "Big Bowl Feast." It’s usually served in a large casserole, layered with delicacies and is meant to be enjoyed by the whole family gathered around the table. Typical ingredients include abalone, sea cucumber, scallops, prawns, roast pork and fish maw, just to name some. It is one of those festive "comfort foods" designed to remind people of the warmth of family during the cold winter months.

“For new immigrants, times of traditional celebration such as New Year often make us long for home,” said Alfred Lam, executive director of CICS. Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, CICS is giving away 120 Pen Cai to new immigrant families, to share with them the warmth of their new Canadian community. “This might be their first Chinese New Year in Canada. The donor’s first intention is to benefit the new immigrant families, make them sense the support,” Lam said.

No matter what your ethnicity, or how much family income you have, as long as you or your family have landed in Canada within the last two years, you are eligible for the free traditional dish. Simply get your permanent resident card ready and call 647-213-4611 to register, and you can pick up your Pen Cai from the drive-thru window of Cafe Hollywood, located at 7240 Kennedy Rd. in Markham.

The pickup time is between 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the New Year’s Eve (Thursday Feb 11) or the second day of the New Year (Saturday Feb 13).

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