Feeding those in need has been part of the mandate of five organizations in Nelson, but the closure of the Salvation Army’s hot meals program has left the others trying to fill the gap.
Nelson Community Food Centre executive director Jess Chant says the closure brought the other groups together to see what each facility could offer and draw up a plan to fill in the hole the Salvation Army left.
Chant says it helped open dialogue around providing a new program for those in need.
“So we all found out about the closure, we got together in mid-March to get a sense of what all of our programs offer and how we could fill the gap,” she says. “Without the hot meals program it means folks who need food can’t access emergency food.
“At the food centre we feel like we have some capacity to try and address the gap.”
Chant says they are looking at providing some type of service one morning a week to start and see how it goes.
“We are looking at having a breakfast program, but we will not be operating at the same scale as the Salvation Army,” she says. “We may or may not attract the same folk but we think it is important to have access to food.”
Chant says she recognizes everyone needs help and they will not discriminate against anyone who might need access to their services, no matter what their story is.
“We are a barrier-free organization, and open to anyone who needs help,” she says. “We might attract a different crowd, but we are accessible to the general public and whomever needs the help.”
According to Chant, no specific day has been chosen to start the breakfast program but before they can open it up they are looking for volunteers to help.
“We need to organize the staff and make sure we have appropriate coverage,” she says. “Like any program at the Nelson Community Food Centre, we rely on volunteers to help with programming. So we need volunteers to help deliver this program.”
The program will be supported by The Hub, Our Daily Bread, the Salvation Army, Nelson Community Food Center and St. Saviour’s Food Pantry.