One of the most vital services for people in need in Hay River has reopened.
The Hay River Soup Kitchen opened its doors on July 20 for the first time since March, when like many others it was directed to close as a precaution against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I think everybody is happy to see it open,” said Michele Stephens, the president of the Hay River Soup Kitchen. “It’s getting some normalization to our day.”
Last week, the Soup Kitchen opened for just two days — Monday and Friday.
However, this week it planned to return to regular hours – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
About 15-20 people showed up on the first day that the Soup Kitchen was reopened.
“That was kind of a low number, but I mean basically I had put it out there,” said Stephens. “We had people going downtown telling them it was open. But I don’t think people believed it. So we had the front door wide open and that’s what also helped bring people in, too.”
The Soup Kitchen president is not sure if there will be a bigger demand because of Covid-19.
“I can’t even gauge it because we haven’t been offering the service through Covid,” she said. “Time will tell. I mean we didn’t shut down because there weren’t any clients. We were given direction because of health regulations that we needed to shut down.”
In normal times, the Soup Kitchen can seat about 20 people at a time.
Now, it will be limited to eight to 10 people inside the building, and there will be extra volunteers to disinfect the seating area and the washroom.
“Nobody had a problem with any of the rules on (July 20),” said Stephens.
Plus, people will also be able to eat from disposal dishes at picnic tables outside the building.
“We just make their meals to go,” said Stephens, who also noted that a hamper service will be starting in the coming weeks.
Kim Tregidgo, the treasurer/secretary of the Soup Kitchen, believes it is important to have it back open.
“It’s been closed for too long and people are getting hungry,” she said. “We’re always here to feed the people that need it and there is a need in this town to feed.”
While the Soup Kitchen was closed, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church helped to fill the void.
In early April, St. Andrew’s began a weekly collection of food each Saturday and it was boxed for delivery to members of the community.