Community Meal Brings Hope to the Table

Community meal participants line up and sit around tables enjoying fellowship and a hot meal
by Linda Leigh
Categories: Articles, Feature, Mobile, Newswire
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A year ago David was living on the streets and longed for a warm, nutritious, meal. Cold, alone and vulnerable, the 44-year-old came to The Salvation Army’s Hot Meal Program in Medicine Hat, Alta. “I wasn’t just a number walking through the door,” says David. “They asked how I was doing―and that was awesome.”

Last year, The Salvation Army served more than 15,000 meals to vulnerable and marginalized people of Medicine Hat.

“The Hot Meal Program welcomes guests five days a week and is the only supper program available in the city of Medicine Hat during the week,” says Ian Scott, Director of the Community Resource Centre. “We not only address immediate survival needs with basic food provision, we confront issues that surround poverty such as loneliness, isolation, self-worth and self-image.”

The majority of the people who access the program struggle with problems such as mental health, addiction, homelessness, lack of employment, inability to work or are unable to cook for themselves.

“When I lived on the streets my greatest challenge was not letting depression get to me,” says David. “I was an addict who felt discarded by society. I wondered aimlessly on nice days and on cold days tried to find a warm place to sleep. I have since entered a treatment program and have my own place. Coming to The Salvation Army lifts my spirits and gives me friendship and socialization.”

“The Hot Meal Program is critical as it provides a time and place for people to gather knowing that there are others who share some of their life experiences,” says Scott. “People talk and laugh around the table, get to know each other and build relationships that often help with day-to-day survival. The program is much more than providing somewhere to come and eat.”

“The Hot Meal Program is a place of acceptance and belonging,” says David. “I have friends here and staff who are interested in me. When you are on the streets you are ignored. Here I am welcomed and always have someone to talk to. Coming here takes a lot of pressure off of me.”