The Mustard Seed will provide meals to those in need in Red Deer starting July 4 at the soup kitchen run for many years by Loaves and Fishes.
In May, Loaves and Fishes announced it was shutting down its operations on June 30 due to an ongoing funding shortfall and was transferring its assets and facilities to The Mustard Seed, a Christian charity that has operated in Calgary and Edmonton for more than 30 years.
The Mustard Seed will continue the practice of serving meals at the soup kitchen, located at 6002 54th Ave., on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
“For the summer we’re focusing our efforts on the meals and the brown-bag lunch school program that resumes in August,” said Byron Bradley, director of Central Alberta at The Mustard Seed.
Since The Mustard Seed is taking possession of the building on July 1, Central Alberta Adventist Community Services Centre, at 5014 49th St., has stepped forward to provide a meal on Friday.
The Mustard Seed will continue the school lunch program for the 2016-17 school year and will also be open Monday to Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for food donations to be dropped off.
On Tuesday a community meeting in Red Deer was hosted by The Mustard Seed to gather input on the needs of the community and attracted about 100 people.
“We’re in a learning phase right now. We really want to observe and learn about the needs in the community. We want to meet with as many partners as possible. We don’t want to be a duplication of services,” Bradley said on Wednesday.
Bradley, who has worked at The Mustard Seed for 13 years, said the intent is to identify gaps in services by working with partners and to honour Loaves and Fishes by building on its great work.
Loaves and Fishes has been serving lunch to about 200 people a day, three times a week, at its soup kitchen. It also operated a housing program for about six people addressing addictions, and outreach and pastoral services for clients.
He said The Mustard Seed was in the middle of making job offers to some Loaves and Fishes staff.
The basement of the soup kitchen is rented by Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing where it runs People’s Place, a 35-bed overnight shelter for the homeless. The shelter will remain on site until a new location is found.
For information on The Mustard Seed visit the seed.ca/reddeer. To volunteer e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.