Salvation Army Fernie will be hosting more free community meals this year, in response to rising food prices and an increase in food bank visits.
The non-profit will be hosting a meal each month, starting with a fall supper on Oct. 27. This is an increase from last autumn and winter, when only four meals were held.
“Anything that we can do to help alleviate the burden of the high cost of food and living here by providing a nice hot meal in a friendly atmosphere,and a nice place to gather and meet people. We feel like that’s a helpful thing for the community,” said Salvation Army major corps officer Jennifer Robins.
As Robins explained, Salvation Army has seen an increase in food bank visitors since last year. It currently sees 20 guests visit per week, whereas only 10 guests visited per week in 2022.
“Usually there’s a time of the year where it kind of dips down and it’s a little lower, and it did dip down a little bit this summer, but not a lot. There’s still a lot of people here throughout the year,”she said.
There will be a sit-down Thanksgiving-style dinner on Oct. 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. at 741 2 Ave, complete with turkey, potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and pickled vegetables. Those who would prefer to eat at home, can get take-out starting at 6 p.m. Robins said there will be room for around 75 people to eat at a time, so guests should reserve their seat.
Robins said the Salvation Army wants to remove the stigma associated with food insecurity and let the community know that it’s ok to ask for help.
“We’re all in this boat. Let’s do what we can to help make this better for each of us.”
Robins said her family used the Salvation Army food bank years ago after her husband was injured on the job and couldn’t work.
“It made a big difference because it was right before Christmas and we thought, oh no what are we going to do with two little kids.”
Salvation Army is currently searching for volunteers who can set the tables, serve food, make coffee and wash dishes. Anyone who is interested in helping, and anyone looking to reserve a seat at the dinner, should call 250-423-4661.
The event is free, but donations will be accepted.
“We can’t solve every problem, but we can alleviate some of the burden on the food side of it and maybe that gives more people more room in what they have for income, to make sure they can pay their rent or make sure they can do other things that they need.”