To get a meal at Our Daily Bread, you can buy 22 meals for a $20 gift card. If you just want an individual meal, that will cost you $5, says Pastor Jim Reimer, whose Kootenay Christian Fellowship runs the soup kitchen.
Reimer says that system means not many transients eat there.
“If a visitor [to Nelson] comes and they want to eat here, we ask for $5 to cover the cost of it. What that does is eliminate the transients. They say, ‘I could go to a restaurant then,’ and I say, ‘Okay, go for it.’”
Reimer says if a person is destitute they can do volunteer work for a meal.
Sometimes people take others out for lunch on their meal card, Reimer says. “Poor people don’t take people out for lunch. But if they have a meal card, they can say, ‘I am buying you lunch today.’” Reimer says it can be a source of pride.
But payments for meals don’t cover the cost of food, and Our Daily Bread also has to pay the costs of having a building.
“We need a building to serve a hot meal, and a building costs money, for insurance, lights, phones, computer services,” Reimer says. “If you want to apply for welfare these days you need a computer and we offer computer service. We have a nurse practitioner. We are participating in getting housing for folks and supporting them that way. This is a place where people congregate, a gathering place. Our Daily Bread is a social place where they can connect with others. Come here at noon and hear the communication and laughter. It is a tremendous thing.”
Last year the organization’s income was $87,000, from private donations, the RDCK, and earnings of the organization’s SHARE store. But it was not enough to cover costs.
“We depend on the goodwill of the people. There are lots of good projects in Nelson, so people have to decide who they are going to support, and every year another one comes up, and that is good. Like Ward St. Place, an awesome project. But there is donor fatigue out there.”
Despite the funding problems, Reimer has big plans for a housing development on their Kootenay St. property, and he will be making a presentation to city council soon for assistance.
“It’s fine for people in Nelson to talk about affordable housing,” he says, “but it is not going to just happen. Someone has to be willing to pay for it.”
In the meantime, the kitchen keeps on putting out 50 to 80 meals a day to appreciative diners.