By Tim Kalinowski on December 23, 2020.
As of Tuesday, the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen will no longer be offering sit-down meals to Lethbridge’s homeless community inside its existing dining facility.
“We were approached by the City of Lethbridge,” explains Bill Ginther, executive director of the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, “even though it is not within their mandate to tell us how we should operate, but they felt they would really like us to move away from sit-down meals, which we have been doing since the pandemic hit back in March. We had reduced our number of seats per table from eight down to two, but they still thought we were at risk, possibly, for an outbreak.”
Ginther says hot meals are still being prepared three times a day at the soup kitchen, but are being transported to the nearby Alpha House where individuals can social distance more easily while eating. However, says Ginther, not all the soup kitchen’s clients live in the shelter, and they will still be making accommodations for those individuals to come in to eat if needed.
“There are some people that don’t live in the shelter,” he says, “they are on their own, they are working poor, or those who live on the streets; so they are allowed to come in at one per table and very well-spaced. That is the adjustment we made as of (Tuesday) morning.”
Ginther says there have been no COVID cases associated with the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen to date, but says they have voluntarily made this adjustment out of an abundance of caution.
“We want to go on record as doing all we can to mitigate whatever we can to stop a potential spread,” he says.
Ginther concedes it will take some time for guests and volunteers at the soup kitchen to learn to cope with this new normal.
“One of the things our staff say they will miss is they will be unable to interact with our guests,” he says. “The guests we have, which are upward of 100 or more at times, we know most of them by name. If we don’t know the name, we know their faces.”
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