Recipient upset at soup kitchen rules

Last updated 16:20 22/08/2014
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Fairfax NZ
BIG NEED: There is increasing demand for soup kitchen meals in Invercargill.

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The Sallie's Kitchen has placed new restrictions on Invercargill's needy.

Run by the Salvation Army, the kitchen provides meals to people in need on a Tuesday.

Regular visitor Michael Ward is concerned the new restrictions are excluding a lot of the people who are truly in need.

Now he has seen people being shut out for not arriving on time, he said.

"There were still empty tables in there and they were turning people away," he said.

The kitchen had also been asking for money for the meals.

"Some people can't afford it," he said.

In March, the Salvation Army had been facing surging demands for their services but Ward was upset because people he knew needed help were not able to get into the meal.

"I thought the Salvation Army were there to help people not to turn them away," he said.

Salvation Army Captain Perry Bray said the demand for their meals had been overwhelming the group.

"What was happening previously, we were having two sittings and it was getting out of control," he said.

There was now just one sitting and people had to arrive and be seated by noon, Bray said.

What the group was trying to do by putting these parameters in place was to just help the people who really needed assistance, rather than just "feeding addictions. A lot of needy people are still coming through for assistance," he said.

Seeing so many people still in need was upsetting because the group was there to help people.

Asking people for a small donation to go towards the meal was to help pay for the provision of the food, he said.

Not all of their food was donated and they had to purchase supplies for their meals, he said.

Salvation Army Major Jan Smithies said reducing the meal to one sitting was partly to aid the aging volunteers.

"Is there a way that we can make it less strenuous for volunteers but still meet the need if there's a need there?" she said.

They used to serve upwards of 100 people but were now catering for a more manageable 45 to 50 people, who were the most in need, she said.

The donations were not compulsory for diners.

"Of course if they haven't got it they won't be turned away," she said.

The aim of the Salvation Army is to give a hand up, not a hand out, she said.

"It gives people a sense of dignity, it's not just a handout," she said.

If 30 of the people were able to give a dollar it would help pay for the next week's meal, Smithies said.

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- Invercargill Eye


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