At Centre Street Church, we provide food to thousands of people each year and we have seen hundreds pursue a deeper journey of personal empowerment beyond having their food needs met. We work with many, providing training, friendship, and a larger plan of action that integrates multiple dimensions of wellbeing – skill development, job readiness, emotional and mental health services, community, belonging, and purpose. 

During COVID-19, more people started approaching CSC for help than ever before, and the demographics have grown to encompass more than traditionally at-risk people groups – new Canadians, refugees, families in crisis, and people in cycles of poverty. We’re also seeing many middle-class families in need of help due to job loss. We have increased the scale of our food distribution. 

With the help of COVID-19 emergency grant funding, we launched a distribution of prepared meals to help people without the resources to store or process food. 

Since Late May 2020 we’ve been engaged in a food resources/distribution project for box lunches and, since early July, freezer meals. We partner with over 30 organizations across Calgary and the region and get these pre-prepared meals into the hands of seniors, at-risk youth, single parents, families in crisis, and low-income Calgarians. Including food hampers, box lunches, and freezer meals, we are able to get food into about 1700 households every single week. 

More than a meal… 

With COVID-19 we could no longer provide connection and community to those who attended our regular Monday Drop-Ins. We grappled with how we could continue to touch the lives of people in need during a time of social distancing. 

This July, members of our congregation started writing notes of encouragement to bring a smile to the faces of those we’re serving during COVID-19. Each week families and individuals have been crafting and illustrating thoughtfully written letters of encouragement to be included with the meals. You can feel the love exuding from every page and pen stroke. 

The Love of Jesus for a City

Our church has been deeply impacted by how great the need is for food in Calgary, as well as how many staff/volunteers are needed at the frontline for these programs to run smoothly. During COVID it takes 50 frontline volunteers and about 200 volunteers behind the scenes to operate our food distribution programs. And thousands to create notes of encouragement to care for people’s hearts while we meet their physical need for food. 

In the name of Jesus, Centre Street Church exists to be a neighbor in our city at all times; but most especially to be a beacon of love and hope in a time of crisis. We desire to be a church of impact and influence for the city of Calgary and for the Kingdom.

* This story was submitted by Pastor Steve Griffin, Pastor of Compassionate Ministries at Centre Street Church in Calgary.