Soup’s on once again at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
On Tuesday, volunteers served soup and a bun to some of Langley’s most vulnerable people for the first time since the kitchen closed last May.
“They distributed 109 bowls of soup this morning and the soup was very good,” said Keirnan Hillan, chair of the church’s charities committee.
In May 2015, after numerous complaints about homeless encampments on and around church property, the parish decided to temporarily close the soup kitchen and its Saturday drop-in program.
“It was impacting the neighbours too much,” said Hillan.
“A question was put to the parish whether they wanted to do the soup kitchen again and there was an overwhelming yes, with a caveat that we don’t impact our neighbours too much and that we are meeting the needs of people that really need it.”
The soup kitchen has been scaled down, no longer offering clothing and bags of food to take away. There will be help on site to make sure people move on after the meal.
“I was there this morning to make sure people didn’t hang around afterwards. This will continue, to make sure that problems don’t arise,” said Hillan.
The church is putting on the soup kitchen as a six-month trial.
“(That is) because we are trying to be responsible citizens and making sure we are meeting the right needs and doing it the right way,” he said.
There is an ‘enthusiastic’ crew of volunteers wanting to make the soup kitchen a success.
At the time the soup kitchen closed, Langley City Mayor Ted Schaffer had met with Father Don Larson (who has since left the parish) about the concerns regarding homeless people gathering and camping out behind the church.
The City had issued the church a citation along with other organizations, including the Vineyard Church, informing them about complaints that had been raised and indicating violation tickets could be handed out.
The church issued its own statement when it closed, saying it was looking at reorganizing its outreach work.