Salvation Army strikes back at hunger
Emily Bowman prepares meals for the night’s drop-offs to Port Colborne and Welland in the Salvation Army’s food truck. Franki Ikeman/Welland Tribune/Postmedia Network
The Salvation Army in Welland and Port Colborne wants to Take Out Hunger.The initiative asks for community partners — restaurants, churches and service clubs — for a once-a-year partnership to provide meals for their Niagara Mobile Outreach Program.The program, commonly referred to as the food truck, makes stops throughout Niagara to give meals to people who are struggling.
On Tuesday, the truck hits Welland and Port Colborne, making two stops in each of the cities. For Welland and Port Colborne — where the Salvation Army doesn’t have kitchens to prepare food — running the program is a bit more difficult.
Niagara Mobile Outreach worker Emily Bowman says there is a real need for the meals the program provides, espeicially with what appears to be an affordable housing crisis throughout the region.
“I think our region is working toward a solution, but in the meantime people are stuck, so this is one small way we can help,” said Bowman.
To date, Bowman says, she has about 31 Tuesdays covered for the year. Some of the partners will be donating more than just once a year. Greg Warkentin, executive director of the Salvation Army in Welland, Port Colborne, Fort Erie and Dunnville, said Take Out Hunger is their idea to allow them to approach a group in Welland and Port Colborne they haven’t gone to before to ask them to contribute what they do best — cooking meals.
“We like to offer variety on the truck, so each restaurant has their own style and type of food that they can make, and that’s something then that we can offer to the people on the street,” said Warkentin.
He stressed the importance of proper health and safety standards being met by any groups donating meals to the program.
Warkentin said there is no pressure for restaurants and groups to contribute, and that they can contribute once or several times depending on what suits them.
He added his group is not looking for full-plated meals, just simple ones such as sandwhiches that can help.
One of the venues already on board is Blue Star Restaurant, owned by John Plentai.
“I just like to help people out in general you know, a lot of people need help,” Plentai said.
He said he and his team like to help out and donate whenever they can, and the staff react well to engaging in the community and helping people who are less fortunate. He said he encourages other restaurants to join.
Take Out Hunger is a pilot program, starting in Welland and Port Colborne. Bowman said she hopes to bring it to Fort Erie soon, where she makes outreach deliveries on Monday nights and has alerted her counterparts in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls to the idea as well.