It was a “unique” season for the Warm Welcome Kitchen, but board chair Wendy Godfrey says it was a really good year.
The final supper for the season was on Thursday night. The interest for the kitchen grew throughout the year, and by the end, Godfrey said they were averaging 60-70 people per week for their takeout meals. .
“When we first got going, we had a couple of starts and stops … and as we were learning how to do this, sometimes our venues would close down because of COVIID or whatever reason, and we made changes in the beginning,” said Godfrey.
More people started coming out once they saw the plan that the kitchen was using for its meals every Tuesday and Thursday night.
“The procedure was the same every time, so it made it easier for them to keep track, so then I think our numbers started to go up,” said Godfrey.
Rather than having the sit-down meal that they have had in previous years, the Warm Welcome Kitchen handed out prepared meals to clients, who had to line up.
“For a lot of people, I just think having a couple of free meals every week really helps to stretch budgets to be able to afford meals for the other days,” said Godfrey.
The kitchen’s board discussed extending the season, like they did last year after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As for this year, Godfrey said their volunteers needed a break because they have been working hard for the kitchen throughout the season.
“We have a small amount of volunteers because you can’t have a lot of volunteers now,” said Godfrey. “You have to be socially distanced and everything, so few people are coming together to put on these meals, and we just feel that they need a break, and Christa (kitchen co-ordinator Christa Jorgensen needs a break. She has a young family and that hasn’t been easy, either, with the schools in and out.”
Jorgensen had some excellent ideas on how they could keep the kitchen open during the pandemic, Godfrey said, with all of the different protocols they had to have in place.
“She was up on every rule that the health organizations are putting out,” said Godfrey. “She was able to implement them to make sure that our suppers were being prepared in a safe manner, and we could put them out safely as well.”
People told Godfrey all the time about how delicious the meals were. Godfrey said Jorgensen came up with a variety of meals, rather than serving the same meals time after time.
Jorgensen did all of the shopping for the meals, pieced the meals together and made the plan for the food. Chicken, pork chops, meatloaf, spaghetti, lasagne and so much more were offered during the past six months.
People who accessed the kitchen this year provided really positive feedback, Godfrey said. People understand that the kitchen needed to have certain restrictions in place, and so they have been following the rules.
“We’ve had no problems with people trying to come in and break the rules. They’ve been really good.”
A lot of businesses stepped forward with donations to keep the kitchen operating this year. They donated food, time and money, and private citizens stepped forward as well.
While they’re looking forward to a break, Godfrey said the kitchen committee is looking forward to having another season, hopefully with a few fewer restrictions.