Changes to the Out of the Cold program
As you have likely heard, the Out of the Cold program across the city has been suspended due to the pandemic. We made the difficult decision last March to close the program out of concern for our ability to enforce social distancing and to ensure the safety of our volunteers.
Subsequently, in the summer, the City withdrew their support of the program out of concern for the transitory nature of the program. With guests staying in each location for one night and then moving to another location for the next night, the City was concerned that it would be difficult or impossible to do contact tracing and that guests would have interactions with too many different people.
Since that time, Team Leaders and Coordinators have been struggling with how to continue to respond to the needs of people who are homeless and vulnerable. Out of the Cold programs across the city have a shared experience:
- People continue to be committed to helping.
- In the absence of the overnight program, the energy has shifted to providing food.
- As was the case with the Out of the Cold program, much of the food will go to people who are vulnerable but are not necessarily homeless.
Our challenge has been to determine how to get the food that we can provide to people who need it.
Over the past few weeks, we tried a small-scale program to distribute bag lunches to people on the street in our community. A few people were served by that initiative. Now that the Interfaith Lunch program is providing lunch in various locations in our community every day, we have stopped our distribution of bag lunches.
We have now entered into an arrangement to provide a hot lunch to the Warden Woods Drop-In at Teesdale Place every Wednesday. The Team Leaders will work with the volunteers on their teams to prepare the food and deliver it to Teasdale Place for their volunteers to package and distribute to homeless people and others who are housed and in need of food.
In addition to this effort, we will continue to explore ways in which we can, both individually and collectively, support people in our community that are in need. Some of the options are:
- Individuals can contribute to the Centre 55 Share a Christmas program. Last year they distributed more than 1000 Christmas hampers to families, seniors and individuals in our community with food insecurity. This year they will not be accepting donations of food; but encourage us to make cash donations to buy gift certificates for needy families to shop for the food they need. Cash donations will receive a tax receipt. Contact web site at centre55.com and click on the Donate Now button.
- Food banks across the City are seeing more people coming for food than at any time in the past. Donations of non-perishable food can be left at any Toronto Fire Hall for pick up by the Daily Bread Food Bank.
- Coordinators and team leaders of the St. Aidan’s Out of the Cold will continue to explore other ways to respond to community needs.
Please consider how you are best able to support any of these initiatives. If you are interested in continuing to contribute to initiatives of the Out of the Cold, please let us know and we will keep you informed as needs are identified. email@example.com
Thank you for your longstanding commitment to meeting the needs of homeless and vulnerable people in our community!