It’s been said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But that’s not true at The Salvation Army’s Encounter Church in Lower Sackville, N.S., which handed out a delicious pizza-and-pop meal to students every Wednesday and Thursday during the month of February. Hundreds of students gathered in the parking lot of the corps each week, where they not only received a free lunch but also an introduction to The Salvation Army.

“A number of students asked us, ‘Whyare you doing this?’ And so, we could share, it’s because we love our students, and we want to provide a safe place to come and enjoy lunch,” says Captain Brent Haas, corps officer.  “We’ve built a lot of relationships with students to let them know we’re here, who we are and what we’re about.” 

As Captain Haas explains, Parking Lot Pizza was part of the church’s “Encounter Love” month, which included various community outreach initiatives. As a recent church plant, the corps was looking for ways to make themselves known in the community, and it also wanted to offer practical assistance as times continue to be tough for many due to the pandemic.

“We asked ourselves, how do we respond to the hopelessness and hardship that people are enduring?” says Captain Haas. “Our church is named Encounter, and we wanted as many people as possible in our community to simply encounter love through us.”

The corps is perfectly located for an initiative such as Parking Lot Pizza as it is within a short walking distance of two schools. During the program’s first week, the church served more than 200 youth, and that number had increased to almost 500 by the final week.

Though Parking Lot Pizza was originally intended to run only for the month of February, the program has been extended and will continue every Wednesday until the end of the school year.

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On Saturday, April 2, 2022, Peggy LaPlante said:

You people are amazing. I love to hear the stories I hear about your Church. You just give, and give and give. I so admire the out pour of love and support you give to the community. God Bless all of you for your love, dedication and compassion.

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