At All Saints’ Cathedral we are trying to adapt to our new normal created by the Covid-19 crisis. It is important we continue, as long as possible, our food ministry to our neighbours in downtown Edmonton who rely on us. We have made significant changes to these programs to provide for the health and safety of both the volunteers and the community members.
At Manna Market, which runs every Wednesday afternoon, from 2-3:30 pm, we now pre-pack bags of fresh groceries which customers can pick up for $10. Before the crisis our neighbours, many of whom reside in the low-income seniors residence next door, could choose their own produce from baskets set out in our indoor market. Last week it worked for them to come in one door, pay, pick up their bag, and exit out the other door of the hall. We pack the bags with popular items and/or items that might last a while, such as potatoes, apples, oranges, pears, onions, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower or bananas.
This week we streamlined distribution, and with fewer volunteers, we tried selling outside. This system seemed to worked well, with everyone able to maintain the appropriate physical distance from one other. We hope to continue this routine as the weather should improve each week.
The first week we distributed 60 bags of groceries, which is about our weekly average number of Manna Market patrons. This week, we distributed 35 bags. The bags hold quite a bit of produce and some may have still had food left from last week. As before, we keep any leftover produce to sell the following week, if it is still sellable, or we donate it to St. Faith's PrayerWorks Community Meals program. We also order extra bananas and oranges to give away at the Friday breakfasts.
The Cathedral Friday Breakfasts feed our friends, including many people who live on the street or in shelters, a free, nutritious meal. In the past, we have concluded our annual breakfast ministry at the end of March. As a result of extraordinary circumstances this year, we will continue, along with a new Tuesday breakfast, as long as we can during the Covid crisis. These meals have also taken on a different form. Instead of inviting our friends in for a sit-down breakfast of pancakes, ham and porridge, the team prepares a take-out container with a toasted ham sandwich, hard boiled eggs, fruit and coffee. Last week, because it was cold outside, our friends were invited into the church to eat (keeping the correct physical distance of course). This was very moving to see, and our dean and vicar sanitized the pews afterwards!
We hope to continue to run these programs as long as we can throughout the Covid crisis. We will continue to adapt to the new and ever-changing safety protocols, as we endeavour to provide a safe and healthy environment for our volunteers and our community. Submitted by Canon Barbara Burrows