For over a decade, The Salvation Army in downtown Halifax has provided free meals on Monday evenings to people with low incomes or who are experiencing homelessness.
“Social assistance isn’t enough for me to live and feed myself,” says Neil, 64, who has been coming to the program for two years. “The Salvation Army helps me eat, and eat well.”
For many people living in poverty, a hot and nourishing meal often takes a back seat to paying the rent and utilities.
“The goal of the program is to provide vulnerable people a free, nutritious and hearty meal, in a safe and welcoming environment,” says June Jones, a volunteer and program coordinator.
“On any given night we welcome 50-70 people,” says volunteer Stephen Jones. “Everyone who comes is served. Some clients are struggling with addiction. Others are battling mental and/or physical health issues. Others are plugging away through rough times.”
The program’s homemade meals include an entrée, tea, coffee, juice, bread and dessert. The menu rotates every week and features anything from sloppy joes to pancakes and eggs to a roast beef or turkey dinner.
Volunteers not only prepare the food and set up the dining area, they spend quality time talking to clients.
“We build trust and relationships here,” says June. “The program meets more than an immediate need of a meal.”
“Staff are genuinely interested in what’s going on in my life and that makes me feel valued and cared about,” says Neil. “I always walk away uplifted and that helps me cope with day-to-day challenges.”