Businesses, churches and nonprofits are all working together to prevent people in New West from going hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Courtney Pankratz, coordinator of the New Westminster Overdose Community Action Team, said the City of New Westminster is working with local businesses and faith-based and non-profit organizations to ensure regular food programming occurs every day in the city.
“We are seeing newcomer families, seniors, persons with accessibility issues, and folks living without homes in increasing need of access to food,” she said in an email to the Record. “Folks from neighbouring communities are also finding their way to NW for essential services.”
Between the Union Gospel Mission, Lookout Housing and Health Society, Lower Mainland Purpose Society, Society of Saint Vincent De Paul and the Salvation Army, Pankratz said meals are being provided for breakfast, lunch and supper.
The Union Gospel Mission provides breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday, the Salvation Army offers a breakfast on Saturdays and the Purpose Society serves lunch on Fridays. Supper, provided daily at around 4 p.m. on Alexander Street, is made possible through the city, Greens and Beans Deli, Lookout, Purpose and Saint Vincent de Paul.
In addition, food hampers are available through the Salvation Army, Purpose Society and the Lower Mainland Food Bank Society, which has temporarily relocated its food service from Olivet Church to Tipperary Park.
Pankratz said the Purpose Society’s health van goes out into the community at night to distribute food so no one goes hungry.
“Meals are being provided by Leona Green of Greens and Beans. She is delivering 100 bagged sandwich meals every day. This includes water and a fruit,” she said. “She is also making soups to be delivered to seniors. We have reached out to Leona to see if there is anything that she is in need of.”
Green said the City of New Westminster has commissioned her to make the 100 bag lunches that are given out daily. She’s providing the soup to seniors on her own, with the support of community members who have provided donations to help out and have helped deliver the soup.
To date, more than 1,000 bowls of soup have been delivered to local seniors.According to Pankratz, the City of New Westminster is also exploring a partnership with Gurdwara Sahib Sukh Sagar, which is able to cater 1,000 meals per week.
John Stark, the city’s supervisor of community planning, said the temple has indicated it would be willing to provide food in packs, such as snacks, that could be distributed.
“We are in discussions with them,” Stark told council March 30. “We are trying to coordinate each neighbourhood. We are developing a food security plan for each neighbourhood and will see how each of the potential partners can fit into that food security plan. But they (the gurdwara) could play a really vital role moving forward.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Holy Trinity Cathedral has temporarily suspended its Thursday breakfast program, and St. Barnabas Church has done the same with its Thursday lunch program and Friday food cupboard.