If you look down the alley between the Whitehorse Food Bank and the Salvation Army shelter just before noon on a Monday or Friday, you will see a woman push a cart out the back door of the Food Bank.
After trundling her way to the Salvation Army, she’ll push the cart up the ramp into the soup kitchen, likely with an offer of help from Salvation Army visitors. Staff will then ladle some of their food into an insulated container and back to the Food Bank it goes.
At the Food Bank, the Sally & Sisters/Soeurs lunch program dishes out hot food to women and children.
Sally & Sisters/Soeurs is a coalition of women (“Sisters/Soeurs”) from the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, Les EssentiElles, Whitehorse Food Bank, Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle and the Salvation Army (‘Sally’). The lunch program is for women and children who may not feel comfortable eating at the Salvation Army soup kitchen, an issue that was raised at a Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition meeting a little over a year ago.
Anywhere from half a dozen to 20 women come through the door for this one-hour lunch program, which runs just two days a week – Monday and Friday. Everyday some of the faces change – it’s served roughly 60 different women.
It is a safe and sober environment. Here women relax, share laughs and tell stories while eating a free hot lunch. Their children can eat and play with toys. Now in its tenth month of operation Sally & Sisters/Soeurs has evolved into a sort of sisterhood where women give each other friendship and emotional support.
The cost? The Food Bank has donated the space and the Salvation Army provides the food for free. The dishes are on loan. Our capital cost was minimal with a new sink and metal shelving paid for through the Women’s Community Project Fund. Volunteers help serve food. Funds for a co-ordinator and prep cook have been raised locally through a successful letter-writing campaign resulting in a family of Big Sisters and Little Sisters. One volunteer has raised hundreds of dollars through her church.
The lunch program has received a grant from the United Way Society of Yukon to evaluate the program and develop a plan to ensure the lunch program is sustainable.
The genius of Sally and Sisters is in its simplicity. The success is in the faces of those who come for lunch.
This article was written by Sally and Sisters co-ordinator Roxanne Livingstone for the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.