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Home News More than just a Christmas feast: Moose Lodge hosts annual Christmas dinner

More than just a Christmas feast: Moose Lodge hosts annual Christmas dinner

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More than just a Christmas feast: Moose Lodge hosts annual Christmas dinner
Curtis Masuskapoe (left) and Candace Hardlotte (right) dish up bowls of soup during the annual Moose Lodge Christmas Dinner. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Cory Grimard spends a typical Friday studying at Prince Albert’s Gabriel Dumont Institute campus, but this week he’s focused on plates and trays instead of books and papers.

Grimard is one of several individuals who spent Friday afternoon volunteering at the Moose Lodge shelter, which hosted its annual Christmas Dinner for Prince Albert’s homeless and vulnerable residents. He said it’s important give back to the community, and there’s no better place to do it than Moose Lodge.

“It’s -40 C out, right,” he says. “People need food, and the vibe here is really nice. The people here are good and it’s just a place you want to be. You want to be around these people because they just want to help out, and it’s contagious almost.”

Moose Lodge needs the support more than ever during this Christmas season. When it opened three years ago, they served meals to between 85-100 people per day. Last year, that number increased to between 110-140, and within the last few months, it’s shot up to between 220-225.

Natalie Clyke, the Moose Lodge coordinator with PAGC Urban Services, says this is the new normal.

“We’ve had to adjust our daily meal plan to ensure that we can stretch out to get the most food,” she explains. “We’ve actually had to come back to the basics, which is really hearty soups and vegetables and making sure that we get fruit onto the plate and bannock and such.

Volunteer D.J. Johnson (left) and cook Chariety Hardlotte pour gravy on an order of mashed potatoes during the annual Christmas Dinner at Moose Lodge on Friday. — Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

“Before we were able to provide casseroles and Caesar salads. We’ve had to accommodate. Our numbers have grown as a result of these food costs increasing.”

Volunteers like Grimard worry what will happen over the next few days to the residents who visit Moose Lodge, and those concerns go beyond food. He’s worried services will reduce their hours or close down for Christmas, leaving the people who rely on them out in the cold.

Clyke too is concerned about how many of Prince Albert’s most vulnerable will manage during the next few weeks. Right now, she says it’s an “everyday necessity” to have the doors open to provide wellness checks.

“That’s everything from making sure that they have warm gear, to hygiene items, to the much-needed blankets that will keep them warm if they choose to live rough instead of utilizing the shelter system,” she explains.

Although there are concerns, Moose Lodge’s atmosphere is laid back and festive on Friday. Residents enjoy generous helpings of mashed potatoes and gravy, and get a chance to chat with friends and acquaintances without having to brave the cold or the wind.

Clyke says the community Moose Lodge provides is one of its most important contributions, and it’s especially vital at times like Christmas.

“With our homeless and vulnerable here in Prince Albert, it is very easy to forget that our people are people,” she explains. “During this Christmas time, when you hear that our families need to come together, this is the same place. It gives an opportunity for our families to come together in a safe environment to get a really fantastic meal, and to be reminded that during our Christmas season, it’s an opportunity for everybody to come together and to feel loved.”