The King’s Banquest Soup Kitchen – a community program that has been serving a need for 11 years – will reopen its doors Tuesday for the first time in seven weeks.
Carolyn Wharton, a member of the organizing group, Our Helpers of St. Anne, said news last week that the dinner service could resume was a relief.
“You don’t realize how much something is needed until all of a sudden the plug is pulled,” Wharton said.
The soup kitchen – funded by the Star of the Sea Parish – operates out of Star of the Sea Community Hall, at 15262 Pacific Ave., immediately adjacent to the Ocean Ridge condominium complex in White Rock’s Five Corners that was ravaged by fire on May 15.
While the community hall did not burn in the fire, water damage suffered that day put a stop to the soup kitchen’s weekly free dinners. A temporary power loss also meant that all of the food that had been stored in the fridge and freezer had to be thrown out.
“We lost, like, 150 pounds of meat… all our food,” Wharton said. “Meat, cheese, eggs, anything dairy was all gone. We have to replenish all that stuff now.”
Wharton said she had initially expected to be able to reopen after a couple of weeks. But it wasn’t until last Wednesday that authorities gave the necessary thumbs-up.
“We had to wait until all the different (agencies) came in and gave us a clean bill of health,” she said, commending First United Church and Kent Street Activity Centre for stepping up to help fill the gap during the wait.
In its early days, the King’s Banquet dinner drew between 17 and 30 people to the hall for a free home-cooked meal, which includes organic produce grown locally in a dedicated garden.
Over the years, weekly attendance has grown to 120.
Wharton said many people have been asking in recent weeks when the dinner would resume.
Not knowing what the turnout will be, volunteers will prepare extra food for Tuesday, she said.
Bernice Jangula, the kitchen’s volunteer co-ordinator for this week, described the dinner as a fun event for volunteers, and much appreciated by those who come for the meal.
News it could reopen brought “great joy,” she said.
“Everyone’s looking forward to coming back.”
Doors open at 3:45 p.m, dinner is served from 4-6 p.m.