For nearly four years the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen in the basement of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church on Paris Street has been feeding hundreds of people a week that are both homeless or just in need of a hot meal.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to the Soup Kitchen’s operations inside the church as the congregation of more than 10 people at any given time has been prohibited by the Governor.
With tighter restrictions imposed by the government from week to week Soup Kitchen founder Sandra Nijjar said her group has been forced to become more creative.
“Each week our numbers of food insecure folks increase because they are out of work; they have no income and they have bills to pay, they need to eat, they need to feed their children and, sadly, some are infected with the virus,” said Nijjar. “Definitely things are much more challenging for our Soup Kitchen leadership team and volunteers to serve our most vulnerable neighbors but we still haven’t stopped being there for our Soup Kitchen guests and friends.”
Despite the challenges the Soup Kitchen faces with COVID-19 and social distancing requirements Nijjar and her group continue to do what they can to help residents have access to food.
“Last Tuesday we distributed meal vouchers and gift cards in the open to abide by the six foot distance requirement,” said Nijjar. “We gave vouchers out and a gift card to all of our guests who don’t have access to postal mail. Then we finished mailing out the meal vouchers to those who do have access to postal mail and haven’t yet been given vouchers.”
Then, starting this week the Soup Kitchen will give out Shaw’s Supermarket gift cards.
“We are taking these measures because of the increased COVID-19 spread here in Eastie so as to avoid any crowd congregating,” said Nijjar. “We will mail the gift cards to those who have a home and those who don’t have a home, we will hand out the gift card in person.”
Any resident in need of food can visit the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen’s Facebook page and fill out a meal voucher form.
“We will continue to share the form for folks to fill out each week and the deadline is Sunday at 5:00 p.m. so we can provide food access to our Soup Kitchen guests through postal mail,” said Nijjar. “You may request meal vouchers once per week. You can use the ticket to order a takeout meal from a participating East Boston restaurant.”
“Once again this week we were able to provide about 500 hot meal vouchers sponsored by Cargo Ventures, HYM Investments Group, Sankara’s Project Heal Foundation, Resurrection Church, The Law Office of Richard Lynds and Kieran McAllen from Waypoint Companies,” said Nijjar. “Thank you wholeheartedly, everyone, for believing in our efforts. We wouldn’t be able to help our most vulnerable if it weren’t for your generous donations week after week. Honestly, we wouldn’t be able to do this work without your support.”