When Morningstar Mission was forced to close its kitchen amid COVID-19 safety measures, it looked like its warm meal program would be shuttered.
But then the community responded.
As word of the impending closure spread, charitable organizations such as the Napanee Lion’s Club, and Lionhearts Inc. stepped up with food supplies and a kitchen. So too did Seasons’ Fine Foods, as well as dozens of volunteer drivers willing to deliver over 80 meals to those in need.
“Morningstar runs on volunteers,” said Morningstar executive director Kevin Alkenbrack. “Many of our volunteers are older and when the state of emergency was declared, the government recommended if you were over 70, you were at risk and you should stay home and isolate. We decided that we would close our kitchen and we would not prepare meals inside Morningstar until after the pandemic warnings were lifted. At this point we are utilizing certified kitchens at the Lion’s Club and Seasons.”
While the Lion’s Club and Seasons opens their kitchen to the Mission, organizations such as the Napanee Salvation Army Food Bank and Kingston-based Lionhearts provides the food.
“We have had to stop our food bank services for now and allow for Salvation Army to focus on food boxes while we focus on meal delivery,” said Alkenbrack.
As unemployment and lost wages rises due to the pandemic, Alkenbrack expects they’ll soon be delivering over 100 meals daily within the community.
“There’s isolated seniors who aren’t used to dealing with Morningstar or people struggling to put food on table for first time,” said Alkenbrack. “The hope is people will reach out to us and add their name to our list.”
To contact the mission, call 613-354-6355.
Though they’re still able to provide a critical service in a time of need, Alkenbrack says its far from ideal and admits they struggle to deliver on their full mandate of not just providing food, but a place to connect. That social connection can play a huge role in helping those who suffer from depression or feel isolated.
“The big focus for Morningstar was always building community,” said Alkenbrack. “That has been a big challenge for our friends who come and have meals with us. This is sort of the best we can do right now is having drivers going and dropping meals off five days a week so at least our friends know that somebody’s thinking about them, people still care about them.”
Though not perfect, Alkenbrack says they’re a lot better off than they were just a few weeks ago thanks to people pitching in to help.
“People have been very generous to volunteer to drive,” said Alkenbrack. “The community has really rallied to get this rolling out the door.”
Those looking to donate to the mission can do so at this time via e-transfer by emailing Morningstar@Cogeco.net or through the Canada Helps website www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/10174 or simply slide a cheque through the mail slot at their 59 Water St. W building.