Shepherds braces for second wave, prepares to reopen indoor soup kitchen



a man sitting on a wooden bench: Shepherds of Good Hope exterior dining room.


© Provided by Ottawa Citizen
Shepherds of Good Hope exterior dining room.

The Shepherds of Good Hope will reopen its indoor soup kitchen early in October after six months of serving meals outside.

The move is one of several that the city’s largest homeless shelter is making in preparation for the return of cold weather – and the second wave of COVID-19.

“We’re preparing to bring people back inside, and we’re looking at how we do that safely,” said Deirdre Freiheit, president and chief executive officer of the Shepherds of Good Hope.



a person standing on a sidewalk:  Deirdre Freiheit, the CEO of Shepherd of Good Hope in Ottawa


© Jean Levac
Deirdre Freiheit, the CEO of Shepherd of Good Hope in Ottawa

In March, as COVID-19 spread rapidly in Ottawa, the Shepherds closed its soup kitchen because physical distancing was next to impossible. The Murray Street facility feeds as many as 700 people a day.

A staff parking lot was quickly converted into an open-air soup kitchen with tents and picnic tables. Lines were painted on the ground to direct traffic and keep people two metres apart.

All of the Shepherds other services were similarly remodelled to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The strategy proved successful. Six Shepherds clients contracted COVID-19 in May and June, but they were quickly isolated and the spread was contained without any fatalities.

The new challenge for the shelter is to bring clients back inside this fall without triggering a major outbreak.

Reopening the soup kitchen does not mean going back to the pre-COVID model, Freiheit said. Only 30 people will be allowed into the soup kitchen at any given time so that they can physically distance. Plexiglass barriers have been added to the serving area and to tables, and clients will be asked to wear masks.

The new limit on guests means that meals will take much longer to serve – and will require more volunteers.

“We’re going to be serving meals 12 hours a day and doing the cleaning in between,” said Freiheit.

Extra cleaning staff has been hired to work in the evenings and overnight. The cleaning staff has essentially been doubled, she said, since the advent of COVID-19.

The Shepherds used to ask clients to leave the shelter in the daytime to make it easier to clean. But during COVID-19, with libraries, malls and drop-in centres often closed, the Shepherds has allowed clients to remain in the shelter for all but one hour a day. In that hour, the dorm rooms are scoured.

“Cleaning is one of the big things we’ve been able to do to mitigate the risks of COVID since the homeless can’t physically distance like you and me,” Freiheit said.

Clients are provided with masks and hand sanitizer, while staff members wear full personal protective equipment.

During the summer months, many homeless people camped outside rather than risk staying in a shelter. Freiheit expects that will change as the calendar moves into October and November, which will increase pressure on all the downtown shelters.

“We just can’t have the shelters become full again.

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Raleigh’s Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen desperate for donations :: WRAL.com

— The COVID-19 pandemic has placed new demands on many charitable organizations, like the Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen, which has served the hungry in the Raleigh area for 40 years and has never struggled more.

Close to lunchtime, kitchen manager Michael K. Smith begins rolling out packed meals from the kitchen to the sidewalk on Morgan Street in downtown Raleigh where people line up for lunch.

“I love my job,” said. “I love doing this for my people.”

Shepherd's Table Food Kitchen in downtown Raleigh.

Smith is one of just three staff members in the kitchen providing hot lunches to people in need five days a week. In the pandemic, staff and volunteers now have to work harder than ever.

“They have been the backbone of this operation, because what 25 people used to do in a day we’re now doing with five a day,” said executive director Tammy Gregory.

Before March 11, Gregory said companies, especially those in the downtown area, encouraged their employees to spend time volunteering. Then health risks that came with COVID-19 changed everything, with volunteers and donations dwindling and dining rooms meals coming to a halt.

Gregory said it took a day to figure out their next step to feed those in need.

“We have kind of a drive-thru set up, and they can come get lunches,” she said. “We make snack packs too, so they have something for the evening.”

Shepherd’s Table also provides masks, hand sanitizer, sports drinks and water bottles.

Gregory said, since support from the community diminished, the number of hungry people increased.

“They still need food. They have no income. As you know, we’ve lost so many jobs in the hospitality industry,” said Gregory. “These are our neighbors — these are the people you see every day on the street.”

Gregory said the group needs help to meet the need.

“We have over 380 companies just in this downtown area within a four block radius and we’re getting no support,” she said. “We say kindness is shown in different ways. Well, write a check, because that’s kindness for us right now. We need that support now more than ever.”

Gregory said Shepherd’s Table also needs regular donations of canned foods and other non-perishable food. Learn how to support them online.

Source Article

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Raleigh’s Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen desperate for volunteers, donations :: WRAL.com

— The COVID-19 pandemic has placed new demands on many charitable organizations, like the Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen, which has served the hungry in the Raleigh area for 40 years and has never struggled more.

Close to lunchtime, kitchen manager Michael K. Smith begins rolling out packed meals from the kitchen to the sidewalk on Morgan Street in downtown Raleigh where people line up for lunch.

“I love my job,” said. “I love doing this for my people.”

Shepherd's Table Food Kitchen in downtown Raleigh.

Smith is one of just three staff members in the kitchen providing hot lunches to people in need five days a week. In the pandemic, staff and volunteers now have to work harder than ever.

“They have been the backbone of this operation, because what 25 people used to do in a day we’re now doing with five a day,” said executive director Tammy Gregory.

Before March 11, Gregory said companies, especially those in the downtown area, encouraged their employees to spend time volunteering. Then health risks that came with COVID-19 changed everything, with volunteers and donations dwindling and dining rooms meals coming to a halt.

Gregory said it took a day to figure out their next step to feed those in need.

“We have kind of a drive-thru set up, and they can come get lunches,” she said. “We make snack packs too, so they have something for the evening.”

Shepherd’s Table also provides masks, hand sanitizer, sports drinks and water bottles.

Gregory said, since support from the community diminished, the number of hungry people increased.

“They still need food. They have no income. As you know, we’ve lost so many jobs in the hospitality industry,” said Gregory. “These are our neighbors — these are the people you see every day on the street.”

Gregory said the group needs help to meet the need.

“We have over 380 companies just in this downtown area within a four block radius and we’re getting no support,” she said. “We say kindness is shown in different ways. Well, write a check, because that’s kindness for us right now. We need that support now more than ever.”

Gregory said Shepherd’s Table also needs regular donations of canned foods and other non-perishable food. Learn how to support them online.

Source Article

Read more