The Salvation Army in Houston is beginning renovations to add a soup kitchen at its food bank location.
“Right now we’re dotting our ‘i’s and crossing our ‘t’s,” says Adam Marshall, the Army’s community services director for the Bulkley Valley area which includes Houston and Smithers. “There’s a lot of red tape.”
While the soup kitchen equipment won’t be ready until the new year, an area at the food bank to offer light refreshments will be ready by the end of next month, he says.
“It’ll be a spot for people to sit during food bank days,” he said of the sitting area.
“We recognize there’s a need for this right now,” Marshall added of the soup kitchen service.
That’s also being reflected in an increased demand at the Army’s food bank since last year.
“Our numbers definitely have increased, roughly 30 per cent,” Marshall said.
The demand comes from a wide demographic of single people, single parent families and two-parent families, he added.
“Rents are going up, housing is becoming more expensive and food is becoming more expensive. We’re finding people really need help,” Marshall continued.
As of last fall, the Houston food bank expanded its hours from one day a week to two days a week, Tuesday and Thursday. The hours are Tuesday 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
And as soup kitchen preparations get underway, the Army is working on another local project for both Houston and Smithers.
It’s a community support van, known as the Hope-Mobile.
The intent is to go out once a week in Smithers and in Houston, offering a street ministry and hot meal for those in need.
All of this comes on the heels of a successful Thanksgiving food collection drive in which 850 pounds of food was collected in the Bulkley Valley, an increase of 150 pounds over the past year.
The collected food is distributed as needed between the communities of Smithers and Houston, Marshall said.
“In terms of need, we’re finding the circumstances are the same between the communities,” he said.
Food donations are welcome at any time and those wishing to make a monetary donation in support of the soup kitchen project should mark their donations for that purpose, Marshall said.
“That way we’ll know it’s for that purpose,” he said.
The Salvation Army’s Houston phone number is 250-845-3494.
(With files from Marisca Bakker)
If you would like to find out more about this and the other services provided to the Houston community you can contact the Houston location at 250-845-3494 and ask to Tim Sharp or Kelly Spurway.