City charity gets major grant

Red Deer charity Loaves and Fishes is celebrating a $265,000 provincial grant, received for much-needed renovation work.

Cook Morris MacDougall

Red Deer charity Loaves and Fishes is celebrating a $265,000 provincial grant, received for much-needed renovation work.

But executive administrator Melinda Lantz is cautioning that this money is earmarked for building projects only — not for the free meals that Loaves and Fishes provides to people in need.

“It’s very exciting to get the grant, but we want everyone to know we still need help,” said Lantz, who noted her organization serves free meals three to four days a week to 90 to 150 people.

The charity also delivers emergency food hampers for the Salvation Army and food bank, provides lunches to some schools, food delivery to shut-ins, transportation and bus tickets for low-income people in urgent situations, and counselling whenever needed.

Assistant director Halina Jarvis believes donations to Loaves and Fishes have fallen off since the public learned of the provincial grant. But she wants supporters to know that the $265,000 can’t be used to pay for operational expenses, such as keeping up with higher demand for food programs in a failing economy. “There is a huge socioeconomic problem,” said Jarvis, who is seeing many more men over 30 who have lost their jobs and are in dire straits.

Money from the Alberta Housing and Urban Affairs Department’s affordable housing program is pegged for roofing, flooring, painting, kitchen and exterior renovations to the Loaves and Fishes building, as well as new windows, doors, painting and foundation work on Genesis House, a transitional home for former homeless men that’s in bad shape.

In addition to the $265,00 grant, the charity must still fundraise for $113,000 to cover all the reno project costs.

For more information about Loaves and Fishes programs, call 403-347-1844.

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