Salvation Army Mobile Feeding Unit Sees Increase in Demand for Services

by John McAlister
Categories: Feature
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salvationarmy_hamiltontruckEvery night, for more than 10 years, The Salvation Army’s mobile feeding unit has been a beacon of hope to the hungry and needy in Hamilton’s downtown core. But, even as some signs indicate that Canada is now emerging from a global economic recession, more people than ever are relying on social service agencies, like The Salvation Army, to meet their most basic needs.

“Snow, rain or shine, the unit is on the streets 365 days a year,” says Jennifer Kellner, major gifts officer with The Salvation Army. “No matter the weather, people line up for, what is for many, their only hot meal they get that day. In 2009 the van served 95,982 people, up from 75,818 in 2008. We have seen an increase in the number of ‘working poor’ and senior’s on fixed incomes using the service. In the winter months we also provide hand-knit mitts, socks and gloves donated to us from various senior’s groups.”

The Mobile Feeding program began following Hamilton’s infamous Plastimet Recycling Plant fire in July 1997. An old passenger van used by The Salvation Army to distribute sandwiches to the homeless every night stopped at the Plastimet site to give sandwiches to a total of about 200 firefighters and 100 police officers who rotated duties throughout the emergency. When other people started coming to the van asking for help, The Salvation Army realized there was a need for a larger, well-equipped mobile truck that could provide people with a hot meal. In partnership with local businesses, The Salvation Army raised funds to purchase a vehicle where hot food could be served.

“Our clientele has changed considerably over the past few years,” says Kellner. “People on the margins who were able to get by now need assistance. Our help doesn’t stop with a hot meal. The Salvation Army also provides counselling, shelter, family services and most importantly, a listening ear.”

Salvation Army Feeding Programs
The Salvation Army has been serving Canada’s poor, hungry, homeless and destitute since 1882. In 2009, from coast to coast, 1,895,000 meals were handed out in community feeding programs and 92,100 meals were handed out at schools.

The Army cares for people at their crisis point. Salvation Army programs are life-changing and your continued support of them means more people are reached every year, and more lives are restored.