A group of volunteers at Fusion Church kitchen may not be making Sunday meals for long, as it is set to close for renovations.
Every Sunday, a group gathers in the west end church’s kitchen to prepare meals to dish out to vulnerable Edmontonians at the nearby Butler Park. Coats and blankets are also available for anyone needing more than a warm meal.
Roy has been serving meals at the park for the last year and a half and says he’s seen a large increase in the number of people stopping by.
“I kept on hearing a voice saying ‘feed my people,’” said Roy. “A lot of people are in a situation and it’s not their fault.”
Although the mission is needed in the community, it’s also in danger of shutting down. Renovations are about to begin at Fusion Church and the kitchen will no longer be available for Sunday meal prep.
Another church has offered its kitchen but Roy said he is still waiting to hear from Alberta Health Services about whether the group will be allowed to use it.
Due to the number of people they serve, AHS needs to provide a stamp of approval.
“We have to have an approved kitchen. It has to be legal. Everything had to be handled a certain way,” Roy said.
Roy said they head to the park around 2p.m. and are lucky if they have any food left an hour later.
While the growth of the program is amazing to see, Roy said, it’s really hard to turn people down when there’s no food left.
“There are so many people in the west, and there isn’t really anything for the people. It’s not like downtown where you have Boyle Street … they can always get a meal. But here, a lot of times they are going two or three days and there’s no place for a meal,” said Roy.
“It would break my heart if I could not feed the people.”
Volunteer Zoey Ringham said herself and the other volunteers have formed friendships with the community they serve.
“They’re literally like our family when we go to the park and so are the people I volunteer with,” she said.
Ringham started cooking hot desserts this winter and brings them to the park every other week and is now known as the “dessert lady,” she laughed.
“We can’t just let them go hungry,” Ringham said of the 200 people they serve every week. “Who’s going to feed these people?”
— With files from Slav Kornik, Global News