Building around hunger

The temporary closure of Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen has put the pressure on other organizations that feed the poor in Red Deer.

Patrons line up for a free appreciation barbecue sponsored by the private employment agency Career Assistance Network on Thursday.

The temporary closure of Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen has put the pressure on other organizations that feed the poor in Red Deer.

“Tuesday, Thursday and Friday we just get swamped at lunch. On Monday and Wednesday they get lunch at Potter’s Hands and it’s much quieter,” said Raye St. Denys, executive director of Shining Mountains Living Community Services.

Loaves and Fishes shut down about a month ago for renovations and is expected to reopen at the end of August. It has provided suppers a few times a week and some Sunday lunches.

Potter’s Hands opens for some breakfasts and lunches. Shining Mountains offers sandwiches, soup or stew at its downtown office at 4809 48th Ave.

On Thursday, St. Denys said it’s been a struggle for people who are homeless or in need, but with summer comes free burgers.

“They have been taking advantage of all the summer barbecues. The guys have relied on them more.”

Many community organizations host free barbecues which adds some variety to meal time, she said.

“It’s a nice break from the soup kitchens.”

And they can offer more than food, she said.

“For some of them, they’ve made connections when they’ve gone to a barbecue. On occasion, they’ve found work.”

For now Shining Mountains will continue to operate Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. During the winter, the office was open at night.

The Shining Mountains Helping Hands RV, which travelled around Red Deer at night providing food and assistance to the homeless, has not been on the road since last year.

St. Denys said more and more young people were coming to the RV and aboriginal elders in the community were worried young people were not taking responsibility for their lives so it was temporarily shut down.

“We weren’t giving our young people the opportunity to grow up. We weren’t assisting anymore.

“We were enabling them to stay on a path and if they had to start facing the hard realities, they would change.”

High gasoline prices also factored into the decision, she said.

Efforts to help young people grow up continues at the Shining Mountains office.

“One of the things we started implementing is older people get served first here. If there’s young people sitting at the table and older people come, I tell them to move,” St. Denys said.

“We give way to older people here. That’s our tradition.”

Anyone who would like to donate food supplies, like meat for sandwiches, can call Shining Mountains at 403-346-9794.

“The food bank is awesome about giving us bread and buns. But things like margarine, juice, coffee, they use those for the families.”

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