It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 people in Victoria experiencing homelessness, and The Salvation Army is ensuring they are fed and hydrated.
“People without homes sleep in parks, beside trees and in forest clearings,” says Major Sheldon Feener, executive director of The Salvation Army’s Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre in Victoria. “Our newest truck is a commercial kitchen on wheels and can feed up to 1,000 people per hour.”
The 34-foot-long converted freightliner is parked inside the fire hall at the local department. It has a grill, six-burner stove, three ovens, a 20-rack warming oven, refrigerator, freezer and an onboard suppression system.
“From a converted school bus to a small community response unit and now our large community response unit, The Salvation Army has fed the homeless for decades,” says Feener. “The people we serve are some of the most grateful I’ve ever met.” The new truck began serving the community in early May delivering drinks, meals, clothing and a listening ear to vulnerable people and those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Three times a week, the truck hits the streets, parks and remote areas of the city.
“Each time the truck goes out, we feed more than 250 people,” says Feener. “Some say this is the first time they’ve eaten since the last time we delivered food. Others say they wouldn’t have eaten today without this service. Others remark that they have just finished eating what they were saving from the last we were there.” Major Feener describes the range of emotions seen when the truck pulls up or volunteers deliver the meals by foot to areas where the truck can’t access.
“To see despair and pain turn into hopefulness and optimism is why we do what we do,” he says. “If we ever couldn’t provide this service, our community’s vulnerable people would be in trouble.”
The Salvation Army continues to provide essential services across Canada throughout the COVID-19 crisis. To donate, visit SalvationArmy.ca or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY.