Non-profit organizations in Saskatoon have been adapting to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the holiday season approaches, they are working to still celebrate traditions that are special to many families.
The Friendship Inn serves 1,500 turkey dinners every year for Thanksgiving and expects to still serve that many this year. However, the way people come together will look different.
“We are again providing a meal with both dine-in and takeaway service to accommodate folks that maybe don’t want to dine in,” Friendship Inn Executive Director Sandra Kary said.
“We’re just in this place of wanting to keep everybody healthy and safe and make sure there’s a meal in the community that they can enjoy at Thanksgiving.”
The dining area has been at 50 per cent capacity since June, allowing for 60 people to eat inside at a time. Hours will be extended on Thanksgiving so more people can come together while physically distanced. Families in the same household will be able to sit and give thanks together.
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People at the Lighthouse typically share a meal together for Thanksgiving and Christmas and staff see how special the experience can be.
“A lot of our clients had never had Thanksgiving dinner before so that was really heartwarming but also a little bit gut wrenching at the same time to know that this was their first Thanksgiving dinner. We’re going to try to do that again, just not the sit-down family style,” Lighthouse food service manager Miriah Krochak said.
Krochak said they are planning on preparing 300 meals this year, which is about how many are served in a typical year.
Although the pandemic has presented unique challenges, Krochak said it has also brought out the best in people. The Lighthouse has been receiving generous donations from the community.
Through Food Rescue Canada, the organization also received a government grant and received about $70,000 worth of food that may have been thrown out otherwise. Krochak said it’s enough for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners this year, along with other meals.
Even for organizations not hosting Thanksgiving dinners or events, the holidays are a busy time of the year.
Saskatoon Foodbank and Learning Centre operations and engagement director Deborah Hamp said demand rises in the fall.
“We just see that increase in usage go up as the months wear on,” Hamp said.
COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of life, but with the holidays come a reminder of things to be thankful for.
The organizations are also preparing for winter months, with cold weather being another tough obstacle to overcome.
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