The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries Community Meals Program is currently being limited to those who live in the building, as staff try to limit the amount of people at a sitting, in an effort to keep people safe from COVID-19 .
Usually the ministry serves a one-hour lunch from 12 to 1 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and a dinner from 5 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday.
Now they are only serving a meal to people who are actually living on-site as part of the Genesis Transitional Housing program that provides up to 14 men and one woman their own living quarters and a communal living space as they deal with mental illness, addiction and homelessness – and also the Emergency Shelter program that provides 30 beds for those that need immediate accommodation, nutritious meals and basic hygiene.
However, frozen meals will be given out to anyone turning out to a community meal who have the resources to heat it up and, if they don’t, they will receive a lunch bag instead, said executive director Mark Stewart.
There are people who attend community meals at the Salvation Army that live in the community who have homes, said Stewart, and that is a resource that they already have and can use.
In addition hampers are being given out to people who sign up with their community services to receive food.
“We do have a limited amount of hampers,” said Stewart, adding that the hampers will only be available until supplies last.
A free box has been set up outside of their administration office at 11948 227 St., unit D, where people walking by can take what they need, including canned food, dry food, “things you can prepare a meal with” said Stewart.
Stewart wants to make clear that they are still serving the community, including two meals a day at the Legion housing, and, he said, that won’t be stopping.
Within their facility they have doubled up on cleaning.
“Due to the COVID virus we’re just being extra careful that we’re not making things worse,” said Stewart, thankful that they have had no reported cases in their current facilities.
“We are obviously very concerned about the spread of the virus and the potential damage it can do, especially to the vulnerable individuals who we serve,” he said, adding that they are taking every precautionary measure to ensure the safety of their staff, volunteers, parishioners and clients.
Precautionary measures are being taken at all Salvation Army ministries across the province including the cleaning of all surfaces and “touch points” thoroughly and frequently, a prepared and updated Pandemic Plan, the temporary closure of all thrift stores with drop-off only available, the suspension of church worship gatherings, the cancellation of non-essential visitation to seniors’ facilities and communicating with staff and clients on how to prevent and recognize COVID-19.
They also have Emergency Disaster Teams ready to respond across the province.
“As one of the largest providers of social services in the province, it is our responsibility to work with government and health authorities to ensure we do our part in containing the virus,” said Stewart in an official release.
“As we navigate these challenging times, our decisions and actions will be guided by evidence-based information published by Vancouver Coastal Health, BC Centre for Disease Control, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.”
On Monday they will be reevaluating the situation to decide whether to open the community meal to the community again.