It’s hard to put a price on a hearty bowl of vegetable soup on a cold, rainy Tuesday.
For people in need in Simcoe and Jarvis, it’s free.
Every Tuesday since May 1 the Haldimand-Norfolk branch of Men’s Street Ministry has been delivering free lunches, clothing and toiletries in Simcoe and Jarvis to those who are homeless, lacking permanent housing, or experiencing food insecurity.
“A lot of them, they just don’t have the money to get food,” said Don Blackstone on Court Street near the Simcoe library on Tuesday. “They might have a roof over the head. They might be couch hopping. Some are truly homeless and that’s why the food has been a big thing for them.”
In addition to hot soup, the Men’s Street Ministry volunteers give out lunch bags from their trailer. Each lunch typically includes two bun sandwiches, a pastry, pudding cup, some fruit and a candy cane.
“It depends what we’ve got, but they always get two sandwiches.”
They also hand out supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables from the back of their pickup truck.
“We’ve got fresh broccoli today, turnips, potatoes, squash, garlic, peppers…” said Blackstone.
In return, they get a smile, a thank you, and sometimes handshakes or hugs.
“I give them hugs and handshakes, and I get them back,” said Blackstone. “This whole thing is not about us so much, thinking that we’re blessing them, they give us a blessing back. I’ve got 60 friends here in (Norfolk) now on the street. That’s how many lunches we are making for the people who are partaking today. If the lunches don’t all go out, I’ll bring them down to the Water Street Clinic and they will hand them out tomorrow.”
After delivering lunches to about 14 people near the county library, they traveled to the Water Street Clinic in Simcoe, then Jarvis.
“We don’t know how exactly how many are coming out every week,” Blackstone noted.
Men’s Street Ministry also supplies free used clothing. If someone needs a sweater, they can find it in the boxes. If someone needs shoes, they find them.
“They don’t have money for clothes… so we’ll go get clothes for them,” said Blackstone. “There’s a couple places around that we can get clothes free, so we can go look for their sizes. Plus, we have people that bring clothes to us all the time, so we keep on giving what we get.”
Funds and food are donated to Men’s Street Ministry to support their Tuesday deliveries, which they plan to continue year-round.
“People can donate on the website and Facebook,” said Blackstone. “Today, I put the word out at our church (Grace Baptist Church) that we needed some cookies… and all of a sudden there was two great big bags of cookies.”