Dear Out of the Cold Volunteers and Supporters,
Break away from your Passover and Easter preparations for a well-deserved group ‘hug’ or shall I say ‘chag’ (a homonym of hug, which means ‘holiday’ in Hebrew.)
With your support, we were able to distribute 2,303 nourishing meals to 1270 guests over 11 weeks. By the end of the season, we were preparing 260 meals, sometimes even more. Each takeaway bag contained a meat (beef or chicken,) rice, potatoes or pasta, vegetables and/or salad, fruit, a granola bar, a home baked treat and often much more. The cost of proper packaging was well-worth keeping foods safely contained. We were told that guests often ate their meals immediately around the corner on a bench or on a curb. If anyone asked for more than one meal to save for later, they got it, no questions asked. Hadar’s Yitzhak Bronstein asks us to “consider the flow of our modern Seder. We begin by breaking matzah and putting away some pieces for later, recalling the food insecurity of a slave whose next meal is not guaranteed.”
Who is accessing our meals and why?
More seniors. At first embarrassed, but a few minutes of kibbitzing and getting to know each other quickly solved that. How do you choose between food and heat, housing, transportation, masks, gloves and sanitizer? Plus, those ‘affordable’ traditional home meal delivery programs are financially inaccessible now.
Homeless or precariously housed individuals who do not have food preparation and storage sites.
Low-income individuals who are unemployed or underemployed and cannot keep up with the increased cost of living. We hear it all the time! After expenses, $200 is what some people budget for food, PER MONTH. What to do? Skip meals, access food banks, frequent other meal providers like OOTC.
Food prices have risen, increased, SOARED! (…and if the product price didn’t go up, the contents’ size went down!)
For our group, the cost to feed a guest one takeaway meal: $2.90.
Average cost for one night: $613 ! (Yes, seriously $613, no joking! 613 = The number of Commandments, including mitzvot, that God prescribes.)
How do we do it?
- quarterly cheques from Homeless Cars (donate your car!)
- donations-in-kind from Lococo’s, Fortino’s Main West and friends like you.
- great pricing from Soldaat’s Poultry, Costco in St. Catherines and die-hard shopping for sales and bulk items!
- expert and experienced bakers who went about producing thousands of tasty cookies and muffins and never asked to be reimbursed a nickel or bag of flour or a litre of oil. We know how much our guests tasted your care for them.
What will Out of the Cold look like next season in November?
· One sec, I’ll check my COVID calendar, crystal ball or The One Above. All depends on Public Health, the virus and the comfort level of our guests, volunteers and host churches.
· If food prices stay as they are now, and if we return to in-person meals, purchasing excessive quantities of soup vegetables and salads of lettuce may be prohibitive so menus may change but rest assured, we will make them nutritious and delicious!
· Bags of hygiene (toiletries) products will be distributed at least once. If you’re travelling again, enjoy your holidays and come back with hotel toiletries and more. We had to purchase much of it this year. Guests were invited to take one bag or more if they wanted. Many guests declared they were not in need allowing others to take two. We were overjoyed when Hamilton Jewish Federation shared thousands of medical masks and sanitizers too. Frequently guests received handfuls of masks in the takeaway bags. Whenever you’re feeling grateful, grab a 12-pack of soap, deodorant, shavers, lotion, shampoo, conditioner to get things rolling for next season!
· Socks, scarves, hats and gloves! Oh my! They are staples to our guests’ comfort.
· With the availability of vaccines, we were able to welcome a few extra people per shift making it much less stressful. Hopefully we can re-employ those who could not join us since March 2020.
My heart is full of gratitude for all our volunteers who worked tirelessly and still maintained smiles behind their masks. The OOTC staff, Janice and Megan, the OOTC Board and Erskine Presbyterian provided guidance and generosity at every turn. Absolutely inspirational!
Have a wonderful and safe Passover, Easter, Spring and Summer. If there are times you would like to reach out or drop off items, please do so. November to March isn’t long enough to stay engaged :) We should always heed the call to do far more to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable people struggling to subsist.