Just over a month into a six-month pilot project at Our Place Society, it’s clear that weekend lunches are filling a need in the community.
Thanks to a nearly $50,000 grant from the Victoria Foundation, Our Place began opening on Saturday and Sunday at the beginning of December, providing much-needed lunches for Victoria’s homeless, poor, and disabled.
“People are extremely grateful that we’re open on the weekend for lunches,” said Don Evans, executive director of Our Place. “It’s not addressing all the needs, but it certainly helps.”
The weekend program has seen between 200 to 250 people per day take advantage of the service so far.
“We expect it will continue to increase as people come to know about it,” Evans said. “Certainly, it’s showing a need for meals in the city.”
The society is actively looking for resources to expand and extend the pilot project, which is set to run until May.
“There’s a big gap when we close on weekends,” Evans said.
It’s a goal of the society to remain open on weekends and provide other meals in addition to lunch, he said. Recently, a $50,000 donation from the McLean Foundation was made to the weekend lunch program.
On weekdays, the society sees about 800 people daily, serving between 1,200 and 1,500 meals.
November and December are crucial months for the fundraising that allows the society to meet its annual operating costs of approximately $3.2 million. Almost half of its revenue comes from donations made during these months, Evans said.
While the society is partly funded by the government, it largely relies on donations from the local community. In November, the society saw a decrease in donations of 25 to 30 per cent compared to 2011.
“Even though donations slow (during January and February), the need in the community doesn’t,” Evans said.
Donations can be made to Our Place Society by visiting ourplacesociety.com or by calling 250-388-7112.