Soup is Just the Beginning at Edmonton’s ARC

by Alberta

“How are you today? Welcome to The Salvation Army!” Chaplain Peter Mitchell’s voice rings loud over the din in the small dining room at The Salvation Army Addictions and Residential Centre (ARC) in Edmonton. Peter welcomes each person in line at the weekly free soup lunch, aiming to make a connection with each one. Many are homeless, carrying their possessions in garbage bags, while others are just needing a hot meal. On this day, 53 people show up and it’s standing room only.

This feeding program is a needed service in the city and has been operating for many years. About five months ago, Peter made a minor change to the format that made a huge difference. After saying grace, Peter starting asking people if they needed anything other than food, and he started to get replies.

“Some just need a toothbrush or gloves or other basic necessities,” says Peter. “But others have reached out to ask for assistance with housing or entering detox and with the help of Denard Miller, our Residential Care Worker, we have been able to come alongside them in their journey.”

“This has become more than just a feeding program we’re offering. This goes back to that old Army saying, ‘Soup, Soap, and Salvation’,” Peter explains, referring to how The Salvation Army tries to meet a person’s most basic needs first, without judgment, discrimination, or expectation.

That’s the way it’s been since William Booth started The Salvation Army back in 1865, and that’s how it continues today.