Volunteers get ready to serve free meals on Monday to those who need it most at St. Louis Parish.
A group of Bonnyville-area volunteers have stepped up to offer free meals to those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From Monday to Thursday, noon until 1:30pm, individuals or families struggling to make ends meet or put food on the table can get a free meal at St. Louis Parish Centre.
Volunteers Les Parsons and Sherry Bourget came together to figure out a way they could help those in need, which eventually became the Community Lunch Program, and the Bonnyville and District FCSS was able to help fund it.
“We know because of this pandemic, on top of the oil crunch right now, some families are struggling. All are welcome: families, seniors, individuals, people that really can’t meet their own food needs at home,” said Parsons.
“So we’re targeting the poorest of the poor, but there’s no shame in showing up. If people have lost their jobs. And they’ve got to eat, and they’re hungry, then we just welcome them to come and join us. We’re not going to be judging who’s coming, who’s not coming. All are welcome.”
Parsons said a roster of 45 volunteers have come forward, many linked to church groups in Bonnyville, so they’ll have lots of manpower to ensure a successful operation.
After a visit from the public health inspector on Monday, the program was good to go.
“We’re following all the public health regulations for distancing. We’ve got the red lines outside like at the grocery store. When people come in, we’re going to squirt some hand sanitizer on their hands. They’re going to wait to be seated,” said Parsons.
“We’re sitting people, only two people per table at 12-foot tables or both ends of the table. So we’re gonna keep using the six-foot distance regulation. We have servers that are bringing the food from the kitchen to the table to feed the people. They don’t have to go to the food window, it’s all being cooked by volunteers back there.
“Some people will have hairnets, gloves, masks. We’re following all the health regulations and ask people to respect that, so we’ve set it up according to the health regulations.”
The chef Pam Luciak and her crew have eight meals scheduled over the next two weeks, said Parsons, including Monday’s special chicken.
“I just want to thank the community. We’ve had an incredible response from the Bonnyville region, the volunteers, just the good old community, small-town spirit is really shining and we’re pretty excited about that. So we can’t be more thankful than having that number show up.”