Edmonton Salvation Army feeds nearly 200 at annual Winter Feast

People lining up for their to-go roast beef dinner at Winter Feast
by Alberta
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On February 18, The Salvation Army’s Addictions & Residential Centre (ARC) hosted their third annual Winter Feast event feeding nearly 200 of the inner city’s most vulnerable.

The free event was open to everyone and was held fully outdoors due to the pandemic. Guests enjoyed hot chocolate, a full roast beef dinner, and a backpack filled with winter supplies – gloves, socks, a reusable water bottle, and snacks.

Organizers ensured all COVID-19 safety regulations were in place, including physical distancing, masks, and sanitization stations.

Every other year, the event would be held inside with entertainment, tables of eight for dining, and décor helping celebrate the occasion.

“In 2020, we did this inside just before COVID hit,” said Executive Director, Major Elaine Bridger. “The challenges are this year, we don’t have enough inside seating space at our facility so it’s a grab-and-go.”

This year, the roast beef dinner with mash potatoes and gravy, vegetables, and a piece of double chocolate cake was served take-out style from the Emergency Disaster Services canteen. A fire pit was set up outside as a place to warm up before taking meals to-go.

The decision to offer an event in February centered around Family Day, as an opportunity to provide a meal and care package in a month that can be difficult to those struggling in the city.

“February is a hard month for people – high suicide rates, bills are rolling in, and it’s cold,” said Major Elaine Bridger. “We put together Winter Feast to remind people that they’re cared for and loved.”

Although the Winter Feast event looked a little different this year, it was important that people know The Salvation Army is still serving, and still caring for the people in our communities, regardless of the pandemic. Being a part of a community is important to everyone’s mental and emotional health, and a sense of community was still present as many guests engaged in laughter and conversation.