The Redeemer drop-in meal program, called The Common Table, is at Bloor and Avenue Road in Toronto and has been serving their community for 25 years, running 5 days a week. They serve individuals that experience homelessness, multiple barriers to mental health, addiction, and food insecurity.
The Common Table has a very small staff, and relies heavily on volunteers, which meant that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Toronto, they had to shift all aspects of their program.
As Angie Hocking, Coordinator of Outreach at The Redeemer explains, “it’s interesting because we’re located in an affluent neighbourhood, but the need for our program is incredibly high. Before the pandemic we were serving 80 to 90 people each day, and now we see between 120 to 140 people visiting us daily.”
The outreach team at the Redeemer had to find a way to keep up with the demand for food while keeping their staff, volunteers and clients safe. One way they did this is by taking their kitchen team of ten volunteers, reducing it to two for each shift, and reaching out to local restaurants that they could pay a low cost for meals to supplement their meal program.
Another initiative they started is street outreach, when they realized that many people in the area who needed their services were not accessing them. By bringing along their outreach cart, they can meet people where they are at and can provide services to a larger number of people.
While Angie and her team have experienced many changes this past year, one thing that hasn’t changed is their commitment to serve their community.
‘So many people were already hanging on by a thread and COVID-19 took away those last ounces of security. People have been told to stay indoors and stay safe, but what about the people who don’t have homes? I’m proud that we have been able to continue to serve those in our community who need our help now more than ever’Angie Hocking, Coordinator of Outreach, The Redeemer
The Redeemer drop in program also works to educate and inform their neighbourhood about how to engage compassionately with their clients who are struggling by providing tools and resources, in hopes that the community can come together to support those in need.
To make a donation to Daily Bread Food Bank to help support our agency partners, like the Redeemer, click here.