Folks package up take-away meals at Ruth and Naomi’s Mission on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (Submitted)

Ruth and Naomi’s feeds twice as many people in Chilliwack due to COVID-19

Increase in number comes from coronavirus-related lost wages, empty grocery store shelves

Ruth and Naomi’s Mission (RAN) has been feeding twice as many people lately as they normally serve as a result of COVID-19.

The local non-profit organization which provides meals and shelter for the homeless had to nix its regular sit-down dinners and switched to handing out take-away meals instead.

READ MORE: Ruth & Naomi’s Mission forgoes sit-down meals in response to COVID-19 outbreak

The announcement came Thursday and was in effect as of Monday. Since then, they’ve seen an increase in people every night.

They typically serve about 120 meals on an average night. On Monday, that number jumped to 180, Tuesday it was at 220, and on Wednesday they were preparing to make 250 meals.

While they are still seeing familiar faces at dinnertime, this week they’re also seeing a lot of new people like those who currently aren’t working because their workplace has shut down.

“It’s a mix of everyone,” said Cory Buettner director of community services with RAN.

Some are unable to buy the essential food items at grocery stores right now, either because of other peoples’ panic-buying and food hoarding, or because of lost wages.

So how can the people of Chilliwack help?

Two ways: donating individually packaged snacks, and donating money.

“What we can do with a dollar is a lot more than what other people can do,” Buettner said.

RAN purchases food wholesale and in bulk to be able to feed more people while spending less money.

Local restaurants have stepped up as well. Some that have closed their doors to dine-in customers have decided to donate food, that would have otherwise gone bad, to RAN.

One of the biggest things they’re looking for, aside from monetary donations, is individually packaged snacks such as cookies, marshmallow/crispy rice squares, granola bars and juice boxes. The staff and volunteers like to be able to hand these out so people have a something to eat for later.

He said they can’t run the risk of handing out donated snacks that are not individually packaged.

People are being asked to call ahead if they want to drop off a donation, as they’re trying to significantly limit their traffic flow at this time.

“We have a very vulnerable population. We want to give them as safe an environment as possible right now,” Buettner said.

To schedule a time to drop off food, call 604-795-2322. To donate online, go to ranmission.ca/donate. They are currently not taking any clothing donations at this time.

Additionally, the Salvation Army which provides daily lunches has also switched from sit-down to take-out meals. The Sally Ann Food Bank is still open.

RELATED: Don’t ‘overstock’ supplies for coronavirus, B.C. finance minister says


 

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