There’s a line-up steadily forming at Radiant Life Church as platefuls of steaming hot ham and cheese casserole are being prepared.
It’s 5:30 on a Tuesday night and it’s dinner time for those who use the city’s extreme weather shelter and the less fortunate.
For the St. Vincent de Paul Society it’s a Tuesday night ritual for the many volunteers who have been spending Tuesday nights feeding the city’s most vulnerable since the winter shelter opened nearly four months ago.
Other service groups and volunteers pitch in to cook and serve meals the rest of the week, but on this particular Tuesday it’s St. Vincent de Paul’s turn and a homestyle meal of casserole, tossed salad and homemade buns has been prepared.
Paul Bertrand, president of Campbell River’s St. Vincent de Paul Society, said the food is always different.
“It’s never the same, we always make sure it’s a different meal each week,” Bertrand says as he pours out salad dressing.
And it seems to be a hit.
“We serve 35 to 50 people per Tuesday night,” Bertrand says. “In January alone we served 162 people, just in that one month, one night a week.”
In fact, the whole year has been a busy one for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which through St. Patrick’s Catholic Church delivers food hampers to people in the community who are struggling and are in need of assistance.
In 2014, the society distributed $514,782 in emergency food to Campbell River residents and a further $144,832 worth of free emergency clothing, household goods and furniture.
The society also provided emergency relief to families to help pay utility bills, rent, transportation to medical appointments, bus passes and other assistance.
In addition, the society also held a work training program, a women’s day program, a family support program, life skills training, a free income tax program, and advocacy for those in need.
St. Vincent de Paul volunteers will continue to provide meals to the less fortunate on Tuesday nights until the end of this month when the extreme weather shelter closes for the season.
St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteer Anna Gernon tosses the salad at Radiant Life Church Tuesday evening. Gernon is one of several volunteers who serve dinner to the city’s homeless and less fortunate. Photo: Kristen Douglas/Campbell River Mirror