by Phil Ambroziak

If there is one thing Meadow Lake is high on during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hope. That doesn’t mean, however, change is something that can be avoided by organizations such as Meadow Lake Outreach Ministries and the Door of Hope.

Friday (March 20), Meadow Lake Outreach Ministries announced, effective Monday (March 23), the local Door of Hope soup kitchen would be changing its operating protocol to help control the spread of coronavirus. These changes include providing take-out meals only from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday.

“This (take-out service) will come at a significant cost to the ministry,” stated Door of Hope executive director Natanis Davidsen. “A while back we moved away from serving food in Styrofoam containers and started using actual plates in an effort to save money, to help reduce our environmental footprint and to help protect the Earth. Now, however, we’ll have to go back to using Styrofoam, which is not good for the environment and which will also cost us close to an additional $1,000 per month.”

The Door of Hope provides meals to about 80 Meadow Lake and area residents each day. Meanwhile, new protocols were also introduced Monday at the local food bank.

“We will continue to provide food boxes by appointment only between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,” Davidsen explained. “However, hamper services will only be accessible through the back alley entrance on the west side of the building. No one will be allowed through the front door for services.”

Hamper protocol will also be more strictly enforced, meaning if recipients don’t show up on time for their appointment or at all, they will not qualify for another hamper for two weeks, while recipients are being asked to wait by the door and not to touch anything until their food box is ready to go.

“We’re doing everything we can do to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” Davidsen told Northern Pride.

She also stressed, because of the current crisis, supplies are short.

“We’ve got a problem, but the good news is we have such a solid community here and people are continuing to do a lot to help us meet our needs and the needs of those we serve,” Davidsen added. “It’s getting to be a little tougher just because, right now, there is a lack of resources throughout the entire community. The food bank is not in good shape because so many items at the local stores are already bought out and there is not as many expired items at the end of the day for the stores to be able to donate to us. I’d say there’s been about a 75 per cent reduction in that regard.”

The City of Meadow Lake, however, has posted a notice on its official website which includes a list of the items the Door of Hope currently needs for both the food bank and for the soup kitchen. Davidsen also noted it’s been reassuring to see so much compassion from the public already, but also said more is needed.