A few of the faces hard at work preparing much-needed food
In the St. Faith’s lunch lineup, Lois shared her first name. “I can’t talk about what this lunch means to me. I’ll start crying.”
St. Faith’s priest, Rev. Venerable Travis Enright, organizes four rotating teams of seven volunteers. After food prep, they serve hot lunches from their door, then deliver more to the EXPO Centre, Boyle, and McCauley areas.
Enright says, “We have been making and serving meals for years and were already in the food security groove following safety guidelines.” When Alberta Health Services (AHS) came in to check their COVID-19 routines, they were told, “You are so far ahead of the curve.”
The pandemic has created gaps, though. Mainly, they could no longer utilize their senior volunteers. Age alone put them at risk. Ironically, Enright easily filled this gap. The now-housebound, young, strong, and healthy professionals also fit the new protocols.
Enright says, “A senior engineer daily disinfects the stove area. The dean of a department, law professors, and other professionals handle various other tasks. These are highly trained individuals, plus we have a medical professional who tests for COVID-19 in her hazmat suit. We have security and safety covered.”
“It was a difficult email telling potential volunteers ‘no’ if they failed any of the 15 online tests.” Many donated cash instead. Enright planned to prepare and dispense all the meals there, serving four hot lunches each week. Then he heard of people at the EXPO Centre’s makeshift shelter who stay put, worried about leaving their belongings. Enright’s team created a space on the street with signs and boundary pylons. “It helps to have an authoritative fireball of a volunteer telling them no meals are served until after set up.” It then goes smoothly despite fear and scarcity. Enright adds, “That is the safest way to deliver the food.”
Other services informed Enright of additional gaps. Spruce Avenue School, for one. “So we now give 50 kid-friendly, peanut-free [and pork-free] lunches for the Muslim, African population. Now people on AISH can’t find or work jobs to supplement their income.” St. Faith’s plans 25 daily meals for this sector. Other agencies are pitching in.
Holy Trinity volunteers make 600-800 buns per week. Another church donates juice. Enright says, “We call our lunches the daily bread because each container holds enough calories to sustain a person for a day.” A sandwich for immediate eating and a protein ‘balm’ balanced hot meal for later.
The pandemic also required Crystal Kids to drastically change their operations. Supervisor Aoife Colfer says, “The online mentoring is new, but it’s working. We have staff making food Monday through Friday.” The centre opens at 3 pm so struggling families can pick up a much-needed meal. “We’ve noticed a decrease and hope to deliver food hampers to others in need.”
For all agencies wanting to help, Enright feels a strong pull to set the bar for delivering food in a healthy way. “There are people out there with big hearts, God love them, who cause big problems.” Enright explains, “People just dropping off food without a sense of order creates crowding. The problem in allowing this clustering is that it creates more chances of the virus spreading. Part of our job is to help other agencies follow food safety guidelines well.”
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Featured Image: Katya was delighted to find out about the hot daily lunches at St. Faith’s Anglican Church. | Rusti L Lehay