Not everyone living in Richmond has food on the table and a roof over their head. For some, a hot meal is not a sure thing three times a day, let alone daily, nor is a warm, safe place to sleep simply a given.
Homelessness and food security are very real issues, and sadly the pandemic has not been kind to our community’s most vulnerable.
The Salvation Army has been providing food, ministry, and other assistance to those in need in Richmond since the 1950s, and they have seen an increase of 100% in demand since Covid-19 became a household word last year.
Richmond House shelter is presently full with all beds in use, as are the 45 beds at the Emergency Response Centre the City of Richmond provided. Unfortunately, that leaves many folks without food or shelter, and Kathie Chiu (Major), Executive Director of The Salvation Army Community & Family Services, believes she and her team can help in a fresh new way.
“We are deploying our Mobile Canteen truck into the community to give out meals to the homeless and food insecure,” Chiu says. “We anticipate being able to provide meals for up to 100 people per day, five days a week, through this program in our continued partnership with the Food Aid Delivery Coalition. They in turn partner with local community churches and restaurants, including St.Alban’s Church, Church on Five, Gilmore Park United and Pepper Lunch Restaurant.”
The Mobile Canteen is a food truck that allows the Salvation Army Richmond to extend their street feeding ministry more effectively, reaching more people at once.
“I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could be more visible? This way people can come right to the truck for help,” she says. “For instance, from 5-6 pm, we would park in one corner of Richmond, then from 6-7 pm in an opposite area, and people could come to the vehicle for meals and support.”
Chiu tells us that right now, 35 meals are being provided to individuals in need, but there are more many more people out there living in rough conditions than we realize.
Instead of having the Salvation Army’s Outreach Worker deliver one meal at a time, they can connect with several people using the mobile kitchen, familiarizing them with the truck, feeding and connecting them to available community services via volunteers and staff. Clothing, blankets, and socks are necessities we often take for granted, but that seems like a luxury for the underprivileged.
Financial support for the Mobile Canteen program has come to fruition in a variety of ways.
“We are thankful to the City of Richmond for providing $6,000 for mileage, gas and expenses needed to run the Mobile Canteen,” Chiu says. Aside from the gift-in-kind donation of food provided through the FAD, the Maureen & Milan Ilich Foundation has generously provided a $40,000 grant for two years toward the project.
Support from the community is still required, however.
Donations and volunteers are very much needed to keep this project running efficiently. For those wishing to donate, just $25 will provide a hot meal to 10 people, meaning a little goes a long way.
Mailed cheques or drop-off donations of any size can be made at The Salvation Army Richmond at 8280 Gilbert Rd, Richmond, BC V7C 3W7 or on the Salvation Army Donation website.
For people who’d like to donate their time and energy by helping to prepare food or serve meals on the Mobile Canteen please call 604-277-2424 ext. 104 or sign up on the Salvation Army Richmond, at www.salvationarmyrichmond.org.