Mar 25, 2020 7:00 PM

Feeding those who need it the most in Salina

Posted Mar 25, 2020 7:00 PM
Captain Lynn Lopez, commanding officer, and Elizabeth Stang, cook, prepare a meal in the Saline County Salvation Army kitchen. Photo courtesy The Saline County Salvation Army
Captain Lynn Lopez, commanding officer, and Elizabeth Stang, cook, prepare a meal in the Saline County Salvation Army kitchen. Photo courtesy The Saline County Salvation Army

Salina Post

SALINA — The Salvation Army of Saline County has announced it will continue to offer meals to those needing assistance at this time and they've added an extra day of food service!

Saturday meals will now be included.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, meals will now be handed out at the south door of The Salvation Army, 1137 North Santa Fe Avenue, according to information provided by the organization. Serving times will continue on the following schedule as needed, the organization noted.

Breakfast -- 8:15-9:15 a.m.

Lunch -- 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Supper -- 4-5:30 p.m.

"With so many children out of schools and parents' budgets stretched, as well as the early shopper hoarding, we are trying to reach the most vulnerable families and homeless populations out there," Captain Lynn Lopez told Salina Post. "We just began to offer Saturday meals because of the instant message requests for meals on our Facebook page."

Lopez said The Salvation Army is taking extra precautions to protect both those it serves and its own personnel.

"I am a certified emergency disaster person. So as soon as I knew this was going to get worse, I began planning for how we could help the community in the best ways," she said.

Lopez said the local organization ordered deep sanitizers, Clorox wipes, and blue gloves. Sleeves of to-go plates and other items necessary for the current operation also were purchased.

"I implemented the drive thru/walk thru to-go meals at the door and simply ask how many they need to feed their family," she said.

Lopez noted that in addition prepping for deep cleaning, the COVID-19 outbreak has had another impact on the organization.

"The main change is the number of meals we are serving. We have an excellent cook who works diligently to provide nutritious, stick-to-your-ribs-meals," Lopez said.

Prior to the pandemic outbreak, the local Salvation Army fed 45-75 meals per day, with some suppers seeing more than 100, Lopez explained. Those were prepared by the organization's cook and served by local church volunteers, she said.

Now the organization is serving 185 to 200 meals per day, Lopez noted. Staff from the temporarily closed Salvation Army thrift store now assist the organization's cook, she said. Additionally, the officer staff is helping prepare and serve the meals at the door, Lopez said.

The morning meal consists of a continental breakfast with a cup of coffee and milk if it is available, while the noontime meal is a hot lunch or soup and sandwich, and supper is a hot meal, Lopez explained.

The well-being of others

Lopez said that the local organization is also providing other services to help others.

"We continue having emergency services available such as our food pantry and the showers. We basically do phone interviews so we can look the client up in our database for approval. Then we meet them at the door with a food box. All carts are then cloroxed-down for next use," she said.

"We are praying for relief from this virus and have taken to posting church services online in Facebook. On Sundays I call people and visit with them to make sure everyone is doing OK mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually," said Lopez, who is working toward her chaplaincy certification.

Lopez noted that soon, The Salvation Army will have an 800 number for people "who are stressing out from staying home all the time and whatever various emotions they are experiencing."

"If there is more The Saline County Salvation Army can do I would like to hear from other leaders in the community in order to plan for changes," Lopez said. "God bless and keep each one in His perfect care. He is our shelter and refuge!"