SASKATOON -- The Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) Urban Services Community Cares Kitchen is preparing to move the weekday hot meal program inside the Union Centre for the winter months.

The meal is currently being handed out at front door of The Gate at Access Place at 101 15th Street East and no seating is provided. The meal is prepared by the Community Cares Kitchen at the Gateway Covenant Church and handed out at 2 p.m. to people in need.

“We don’t want people to freeze but we have to do it in a way that’s safe and so that’s more complicated than just bringing people indoors,” said Linea Lanoie, the director at The Gate at Access Place.

People who want to access the meal indoors at the Union Centre will have to sign in, hand sanitize, physically distance and follow pandemic restrictions.

“I think that’d be great. Why eat outside when it’s so cold?” said Kona Custer who typically takes in the weekday meals.

About 80 to 125 people use the weekday meal program at the Gate. The new arrangement should begin the week of Dec. 7. Clients who use the services at the Gate will have to travel from 15th Street to Union Centre at 107 8th Street East.

Natalie Guimond started feeding the hungry during the early days of the pandemic. Since then the Prince Albert Grand Council Urban Services has offered support to the Community Cares Kitchen. Guimond says she’s grateful the grand chief and band council for supporting the food, clothing and donations efforts.

“That’s how we’ve evolved to fill the current food security needs,” said Natalie Guimond, PAGC Urban Services Community Cares coordinator.

“We’re feeling a lot more connection and a lot more comfort by the individuals who are coming to receive those meals because they know that they are going to get a hearty, fantastic meal, Monday to Friday,” Guimond said.

Clients outside the Gate are pleased with their meal and say they don’t know what they’d do without it.

“I like it. It’s homemade food like your mom would cook for you at supper time, It’s like that,” said Tammy Ballantyne.

The kitchen also provides food for another 25 clients at the YWCA Stepping Stone Shelter at the Prince Albert Exhibition grandstand shelter that gives supper to clients.

Lanoie says that not all of the people who access food through the Gate are homeless.

“For some, it’s a way to supplement their food budget because there’s a lot of people that aren’t well off that come to use the services here.”