Volunteers Bruce Davies (centre) and his wife Patti Davies join Jerry Lee as they serve lunch at the Upper Room Mission Friday.

Volunteers Bruce Davies (centre) and his wife Patti Davies join Jerry Lee as they serve lunch at the Upper Room Mission Friday.

Upper Room Mission overwhelmed by growing demand

The number of meals served have soared from 250 a day to more than 300 in the past year

Changing demographics are putting the pinch on Vernon’s Upper Room Mission.

The number of meals served have soared from 250 a day to more than 300 in the past year, and much of that is fuelled by an evolving clientele.

“There are lots of families with children and that’s the hardest part,” said Lisa Anderson, URM spokesperson.

“It’s a little shocking that we need high chairs.”

On top of this are the regular patrons, including the homeless, and seniors walking through the door for the first time.

“It’s difficult to say the least. We are at capacity in the dining room,” said Anderson.

“There are so many new faces and that’s a reality check.”

Many of the people have turned to URM because  pension cheques and minimum wage jobs make it difficult to cover rent and utility costs while putting food on the table.

“Everyone is struggling and they are needing help to eat,” said Anderson.

The inflated cost of living means food and monetary donations have shrunk and that has URM dipping into limited financial reserves to keep up with demand.

“The cost of meat has skyrocketed and yet we want to provide nutritious meals,” said Anderson.

Economic conditions are also having another impact on the mission.

“Volunteers have had to quit because they need to find work. Having just one person in the workforce doesn’t cut it for a family any more,” said Anderson, adding that some senior volunteers have left to care for grandchildren whose parents are working.

URM is currently putting a call out for volunteers as well as donations of food and money.

Items that the kitchen needs most include meat, potatoes, and fresh vegetables.

“We also have meal sponsorship opportunities, in which businesses or groups may use our kitchen space, provide the meal and serve it to our guests,” said Anderson.

“I realize that many of us are stretched to the limit right now, but if people could find it in their heart to give, even just a little, it really can make a difference.”

Monetary donations can be made at www.upperroommission.ca or drop by 3403 27th Ave. For information, call 250.549.1231 ext. 29.

“We’re in a desperate time and we hope local businesses and residents will step up,” said Anderson.