By Jensen, Randy on March 20, 2020.
The Lethbridge Soup Kitchen is looking for monetary donations and more volunteers to help the city’s most vulnerable get through the COVID-19 crisis in the best way possible.
“We are getting more on the product side than we are on the funding side,” says Bill Ginther, executive director of the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen Association. “So we would certainly use some infusion of money to keep operating to have the facility and staff looked after.”
Since many of their usual volunteers are older and more vulnerable to the worst effects of the virus, many are being asked to stay home by their families for their own health’s sake. Ginther says he could use some more volunteers to help with the busy lunch period, especially, between 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. daily.
He stresses any potential volunteers should call and ask to be put on a volunteers’ list, and not just show up, because due to provincial government restrictions they can have no more than 50 people in the building at any given time, which works out to about 10 volunteer servers and 40 guests. The soup kitchen has been doing its meals in stages to ensure everyone gets fed and they are following the provincial guidelines, Ginther says.
“We realize we need to do our part like everybody else; so what we are doing is following all suggested provincial government and health department recommendations,” he confirms. “We are doing our best to mitigate the spread.”
Ginther says on the food supply side the soup kitchen is in pretty good shape at the moment thanks to the generosity of local businesses and Hutterite colonies. Many restaurants are also closing temporarily in the city as the outbreak continues, and several of those have opted to bring their perishable food products to the soup kitchen rather than let them go to waste, Ginther confirms.
“I think we are coping quite well considering,” says Ginther.
“We are adamant we want to continue providing for these folks who don’t have any other means at all. We are operating to the best of our ability with taking every precaution we can to keep our people safe.”
Ginther says the only shortage on the food side he has noticed so far is less bread and fewer pastry products being donated due to increased demand at local stores.
“We usually get plenty from local grocery stores, but they are seeing their shelves are becoming bare of these things as well,” he confirms. “Instead of getting a full truck load, we get less than half. We will adjust our menus accordingly because we don’t have as many bread items as we did before.”
Ginther says the soup kitchen’s clients are also adjusting to the changes and limitations being imposed for their safety.
“In terms of our guests, whom we consider to be more vulnerable, although we don’t expect them to be the ones spreading the disease – we are doing what we can to protect them and keep them safe,” he says. “I have no idea what our homeless neighbours would do in the event these meals are not being provided.”
With amazing community support and a dedicated group of volunteers, Ginther says the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen will continue to provide food to the city’s most vulnerable through this crisis, and change its practices as needed to ensure their guests stay safe as the situation evolves.
“It’s really heartening to me seeing people step up when there is a need,” he states. “We are blessed beyond words to receive the kind of support we do.”
Anyone wanting to volunteer their time or make a monetary donation to support the work of the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen can call 587-220-8688.
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