For the last few weeks, volunteers with the charity known as Lionhearts Inc. have been spending their days preparing and packaging hundreds of take-away meals, as well as snacks such as fruits and fresh bread.
Volunteers, along with Chef Will Arnaud of Otter Creek Farms, set up a mobile food truck. Every night, between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., they hand out food to the less fortunate — all while maintaining a safe distance of two metres or more.
“We’ve been working with public health and the City of Kingston with all of our distancing and parameters we have to put in place. There’s a lot of safety precautions,” said Travis Blackmore, the charity’s executive director.
The charity has been around for some time, reclaiming millions of dollars’ worth of surplus food from area stores and restaurants that would otherwise go to waste.
Those items would then be given to local agencies within the city. Last year, the organization was given $2.3 million worth of food.
Now, with many local service organizations closing their doors to protect staff, volunteers and clients from COVID-19, they’re having to change how they operate and fill the gap.
Since launching their “street project” in March they have seen a significant rise in demand.
To accommodate more people, they are opening a second location outside of the Kingston Community Health Centre in Rideau Heights. The organization has also donated its kitchen where volunteers can prepare and store food safely.
Meals such as chicken caesar salad and pasta with meat sauce will be handed out outside the building on Weller Avenue, every evening between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
“We thought that by setting something up in this particular area of town, maybe we could help those families through some of this difficult time that we are about to go through in the next couple weeks,” says Blackmore.
That work, Blackmore says, can’t be done without the help of the organization’s hundreds of volunteers.
“To me these people are superheroes,” said Blackmore. “We’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of man hours.”
Since the start of the project they have served over 2,800 meals to those in need in the community.