A Sidney church has officially approved a program that delivers food to individuals who are homeless, food insecure or both – twice a week.
Lois Ainey, parish administrator for St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, said the Friends of St. Andrew program draws inspiration from a New Testament quote in the Book of Matthew (“I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink”) made its first official delivery on Friday, Sept. 17 following a soft launch at the end of June.
The program could benefit up to 25 people and Ainey has made contact with more than a dozen, to varying degrees. “Some I see every week and some I see periodically,” she said. Service locations include Iroquois Park among others. “That is always my first stop.”
“I also look at the park behind the visitor information building, Tulista Park, up by Dollarama, the bike path, over by Canadian Tire, over by Tim Hortons – so a variety of spots.”
Ainey generally delivers a variety of items, including warm sandwiches prepared at the church’s kitchen, along with milk, on Mondays and Fridays using a vehicle and a little cart.
Gauging demand for the service has not been easy.
“It has been slow going in the beginning,” Ainey said, noting it has been hard to find individuals who would benefit. But those who have been helped have responded positively.
“They have all been very appreciative.”
Most of the individuals are men, and the age range is between late 20s to 60s.
Other details about these individuals are less-well known, if at all.
“We generally talk about what is going on that day, the weather, how they are doing, but I generally don’t ask them questions about background or their circumstances, just leaving the conversation to develop as it will naturally,” Ainey said.
According to the church, the program has the support of the Town of Sidney as well as Sidney/North Saanich RCMP detachment. It joins comparable church programs feeding people experiencing homelessness operated by St. Elizabeth’s Catholic and Peace Lutheran in Sidney, and St. Stephen’s Anglican in Central Saanich. The Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank is also available for those in need.
St. Andrew’s church hopes its program eventually dovetails with its long-running weekly Neighbours’ Lunch program. It, like other soup kitchens, remains closed in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While start-up funding for the program came from the church, it hopes to cover the monthly operating costs of $400 through donations. For more see, standrewssidney.ca/pages/giving.