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The St. George’s Anglican Street Ministry in Maple Ridge has yet to find a new home for their weekly free suppers, after being told in January they must move from their current location at the Community Education on Environment Development (CEED) Centre Society building by the end of this month.
The District of Maple Ridge, which owns the land the CEED Centre Society building sits on, told CEED their lease did not cover congregate meals.
A spokesperson for the district told Megaphone they suggested moving the meals because it was becoming too crowded for the residential neighbourhood.
The Street Ministry provides the free meals every Saturday to anyone who is hungry, attracting 50 to 100 people per week and serving everyone from families to single people, people dealing with issues of poverty, homelessness or addictions to just plain hunger.
“I look at it as it’s a potluck dinner with my friends and family,” said Candice Mitchell, who works with the Street Ministry.
“It’s more about a community, making [vulnerable people] feel welcome in their community. They don’t get a lot of opportunities to gather together and feel safe.”
Mitchell says the ministry is considering two different spots—the parking lots of the Maple Ridge Baptist Church and Ridge Meadows Association for Community Living—but so far neither space has been secured.
Christian Cowley, who runs CEED, says district staff are flexible, granting one-week extensions to the supper, which was supposed to have a new place by the end of March.
Mitchell is confident the ministry will find a new place, and they’re already looking at other locations just in case. But if all else fails, she has a back up plan.
“Personally I would go back to doing sandwiches out of my car,” she told Megaphone.