We hope you had wonderful Christmas and are enjoying an equally wonderful 2016 so far. High among our blessings in 2015 was your continued support our community feeding program, Community Meals. Your cooking and service made it possible for us to serve 50,000+ meals over the course of the year and we are grateful for your support.
We are taking this opportunity to update you on Community Meals and its future. Recently we have experienced a rise in violence during our breakfast and dinner service to the community. Within the last week, several altercations have taken place, some resulting in personal injury and others in property damage, leading us to serve the meals carryout rather than dine in, simply out of danger to our shelter residents, volunteers and staff. In 2015 we also had to call the police over two dozen times to report incidents and request assistance.
Additionally, we have experienced issues with client confidentiality and safety as a result of allowing close to 150 individuals into our building to receive a meal. The use of the cafeteria and staff time during the Community Meals service has also hindered the service we aim to provide for our shelter residents whom come to us expecting transformational programming to help them in their journey toward self-sufficiency. However, because of strained staffing and lack of space, we have been unable to provide this service to the level our residents deserve and we expect of ourselves.
With that said, we will be ending our service of the Community Meals program. Friday, January 29 will be the last day of breakfast service and Saturday, February 27 will be the last day of the Community Meals dinner.
Mid-way through 2015 we began review of the Community Meals program and whether the growing number of calls to the police, property damage and staff strain justified continuing the service at the cost of serving our shelter residents. We concluded that our mission, “To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination”, was not being applied among our shelter residents appropriately while we continued Community Meals.
We had hoped to have serve meals further into the New Year, however, due to the rise in incidents such as mentioned above, we feel no choice but to completely end the program on Saturday, February 27.
We will continue to serve breakfast and dinner to our shelter residents, a number of about 60, seven days a week. We pray that you can continue to support our feeding efforts and respect the decision to close the Community Meals service. Within the week our Volunteer Coordinator, Joanna Brown, or a member of our staff, will call you to discuss this. We will also be working on a list of other organizations who offer feeding programs to the community and communicate that to you, should you wish to continue with this type of support.
Thank you again for your support and God bless,
Major Timothy Carter
Area Commander, The Salvation Army Central Virginia