Saint John soup kitchen sees 25 per cent increase in demand since start of COVID-19 pandemic
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Maritimers in many ways, including financially.
Job losses and financial uncertainty have led people to rely on organizations like Romero House in Saint John, N.B., more than ever.
For 127 days now, the team at Romero House has been serving hot meals out of a take-out window, passing bags of food and bottles of water from inside the closed dining room to those who are lined up outside.
“Every day they get the main part of the meal, whatever that is, plus they get, we try to have rolls and some kind of sweet and a drink of some kind,” says Dianne Daigle, a Romero House volunteer.
The take-out window has been in place since the middle of March, in response to COVID-19 restrictions. Since that time, Romero House has served more than 35,400 meals to some of Saint John's most vulnerable.
“As of the end of today, I'm anticipating that we will hit 36,000 meals, which is unbelievable to me. It's unbelievable to all of us,” says Evelyn McNulty, the executive director at Romero House.
Romero House has been helping people in Saint John for almost 40 years, serving hot meals seven days a week, 365 days out of the year.
However, this is a year unlike any other. McNulty says, in the 18 weeks the take-out window has been open, there has been a 25 per cent increase in demand.
“This year with COVID, I don't know where the limit is honestly. Last year we broke the ceiling of 400. On Thursday we had 420 people come for a meal, or get meals out of the window, which is, it's never happened in my time here,” says McNulty.
Daigle says she’s happy to be able to help out at a time when everyone is feeling the pinch.
“A lot of people who had no idea what we did here before are now in need of our services and we'd be remiss if we weren't here. We'll be here everyday,” says Daigle.