Salvation Army attempting to fill gap left after Moose Lodge closure

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Major Ed Dean hands out a sandwich on River Street as part of the Salvation Army's new temporary program on Tuesday morning.

With the recent last meal and closure of the Moose Lodge, the Salvation Army is trying to help fill the gap for those in need in Prince Albert.

Salvation Army Major Ed Dean said that they are doing what they can by bringing a refrigerated

truck. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the organization’s mobile unit will hand out water or juice, sandwiches, and socks at the riverbank from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and from 11:30 a.m. until noon at a South Hill location.

“One of the feeding programs in the in the core area of the city has shut down. and so the Salvation Army is trying to do its part and pick up some of those pieces,” Dean said. “We may not be able to pick up them all. We will definitely do our best.”

Today was day one of the Salvation Army venture. Dean said most of the feedback was positive.

“The socks are a welcome sight today, (and) so are the sandwiches,” he said. “I’ve heard some people say ‘I’m hungry’ so we will definitely meet the need where the need is.”

The PAGC Moose Lodge closed last Friday and the Salvation Army is attempting to fill some of the gaps left by the closure. However, Dean said the mobile unit by itself won’t be able to make up the difference.

“We know that this is not a permanent thing,” he explained. “A mobile unit is never a permanent thing. It’s temporary.

“The closure of Moose Lodge offered a chance to serve because we are all part of the same community no matter our situation,” he added. “It doesn’t matter where you live, whether it be on the street or in a shelter or you have an apartment, these are all neighbours to one another, our neighbours. Just because we’re fortunate enough to have a home that we can live in doesn’t mean that everybody is in that same space.”

The Salvation Army mobile unit started the day on River Street by the gazebo before moving to a second location. The unit was staffed entirely by volunteers. Dean said that shows people in the community are concerned about the closure of Moose Lodge, and the city’s homeless population.

“People say, ‘how can I help out?’ Well, we need volunteers, (and) we need monetary resources so that we can keep this program going.”

Dean said they’re trying to partner with different suppliers to make the unit as economically efficient as possible. That might mean switching up their offerings, depending on what’s available.

Dean said they hope to keep serving homeless residents at the waterfront near the gazebo because it allows them to serve a large number of people in a short amount of time. However, they have already had some people complain about the decision.

“It’s a new endeavour for us. I know that we’ve already had some feedback that they’re not happy that we’re doing it here. However, we don’t have a permanent location as of yet,” he said.

The concept is only temporary as the truck cannot run all year. However, Dean said they are working on a plan to offer more indoor services before winter.

“Come winter time, we know that this truck will not be on the road,” he said. “It’s more of a summer unit. It’s a refrigerated truck, so we’re keeping things cold. When wintertime comes, we will need to be doing something more permanent inside somewhere, and so we are definitely working on that as we speak.”