In 2020, approximately 68 people per day relied on Penticton’s Soupateria for food. (Jesse Day - Western News)

In 2020, approximately 68 people per day relied on Penticton’s Soupateria for food. (Jesse Day - Western News)

Penticton’s Soupateria facing uncertainty due to dwindling grant money, COVID restrictions

The Soupateria served over 25,000 meals in 2020

Through the entire pandemic, the small group of volunteers at the Penticton Soupateria have been as busy ever, serving over 25,000 hot meals to people in need in 2020.

That averages out to 68 meals served every day.

The Soupateria was forced to close briefly in March as they could not have the necessary number of volunteers in the building due to social distancing rules.

However, after receiving grants from the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen and the United Way, as well as generous donations from the community, the Soupateria was able to re-open with a smaller, paid kitchen staff of five employees in April.

The Soupateria has also nixed dine-in service since returning from the brief hiatus, opting to install a “grab and go” window to facilitate social distancing.

The Penticton Soupateria normally operates solely thanks to volunteers and, since it has no government funding, relies on donations from the community to operate.

Kitchen manager Tracy Comber said she’s extremely grateful to be able to continue providing this essential service to the community. In recent weeks, the Soupateria has been giving out upwards of 60 meals a day to people, many of whom are seniors struggling to get by on pension payments.

“Our clients are a mixture of people from homeless people, to marginalized people and a lot of seniors,” Comber said. “I’d say probably over half of our clients are seniors that just can’t quite make it to the next pension.”

However, Comber is uncertain about the future of the Soupateria as they currently only have enough money to continue employing paid staff until the middle of May. The Soupateria will remain open no matter what, Comber promised.

“I hope one day they can put us out of business where we don’t have people that are going hungry,” she said.

But right now the reality is there are many people in Penticton who cannot afford to feed themselves, making places like the Soupateria essential to their survival, Comber explained.

Until the day comes where no one is left hungry, Comber said the best thing you can do to help is to donate.

Donations can be made any time in-person, by mail or online. For more information visit the Soupateria’s website.

READ MORE: Hungry can enjoy Thanksgiving meal thanks to Soupateria volunteers

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