With ever increasing housing costs and decreasing purchasing power of fixed incomes, Duncan’s United and Anglican churches have joined forces to keep a crucial local program going this August.
Meals on the Ground, a program run and provided by volunteers for more than a decade, feeds between 20 and 50 people every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening at Duncan United Church. Running 11 months of the year the program will pause in August to give volunteers a well-deserved break.
“We shut down last August to renovate our kitchen. Installing a new commercial hood fan and gas stove, thanks to a New Horizons Grant and Lewis Sheet Metal,” said United Church Board Chair Virginia MacCarthy. While the new kitchen is a great benefit to the church and all who make use of it, the shut down made survival very difficult for those who rely on the program for food.
“Many people come here to eat because they can’t afford to pay their rent and buy groceries,” says Program Coordinator Ann Balding. “Last August was a lean time for all.”
This year the Anglican Church is providing the service of a postulant, Trish Stock, a regular volunteer at the Cowichan Food Basket, who will help find replacement volunteers and funds to keep the program going.
“We believe we’ll have to supply around 800 meals over the month,” Stock said, “at a cost of about $3 per meal. That would give everyone a main course, salad, bun and dessert, with something left over for seconds.”
Stock will be canvassing local businesses, churches, community groups and unions for funds and volunteers.
“We need a core group of three volunteers every night, and another three or four to serve dinner. It’s best if they can prepare the dinner too, but we can make that happen, if need be,” says Stock.
The program’s direct expenditure budget will be around $2,500. Any amounts raised over that will go to the church’s homeless prevention fund. Other overhead costs (heat, light, cooling, power, dishwashing, custodial services and related items) are covered out of the church operating budget.