Thanks to support from the community, HOPE House has resumed its breakfast program.
The program, which runs Mondays to Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., is offering a light, takeout breakfast outside the entrance of HOPE House on Cork Street.
Currently, the program provides 160 meals each week to community members in Guelph.
HOPE House was able to resume the program after collecting $10,500 from their fundraiser, HOPE In The Street, which was held in September.
“We’ve been really fortunate to have companies and individuals and partnerships step up. We’ve had quite a few donations for it from all kinds of groups.” said Gillian Cornell, immediate relief manager of HOPE House.
During the pandemic, HOPE House had put the breakfast program on hold to focus on their food market, as two other organizations,The Drop In Centre and Royal City Mission, ran their breakfast programs.
However, Cornell said they learned late summer that The Drop In Centre was stepping back from offering breakfast to focus on affordable housing.
Cornell said in six weeks, they adapted their breakfast program so that residents would still have access to food in downtown Guelph.
“By September, we had developed the program within a budget, and our summer student did that as part of her job, and we started serving October 5,” said Cornell.
Pre-COVID, HOPE House ran a community breakfast program, which featured a big, hot breakfast on Wednesdays that could serve up to 125 people. For every other day the program was offered, Cornell said community members could walk into the cafe and get food.
“The cafe was the main central heart of pre-COVID for HOPE house.” said Cornell, “You’d come in, you’d be able to access a light breakfast, light lunch… it was really healthy and delicious food.”
“When COVID hit, we couldn’t do that breakfast anymore. We couldn’t socially distance.”
Now, HOPE House gives away breakfast sandwiches on Wednesdays from Robusta Cafe. On Thursdays, they serve yogurt with a granola bar, on Mondays they offer muffins with an apple and hardboiled eggs on Tuesdays.
"It's not a heavy-full breakfast, but it's nutritionally balanced and it gets you through until lunch at Royal City." said Cornell.
While the program has changed and the cafe is currently being used for their food market, a majority of their previous volunteers have returned to help with the takeout breakfasts.
“Eighty per cent of them were (previous) volunteers. Only two are new.” said Cornell.
By being outside and offering a takeout breakfast, Cornell said they hope to continue fostering organic connections with community members, helping them meet their immediate needs.
"It's a way for us to meet our mandate and helping people with their physical, emotional, spiritual and financial (needs)," said Cornell, "Helping people set goals and meet them, helps them towards independence."
Cornell said they plan to continue to set up their takeout breakfast program by their front entrance, but re-evaluate their setup before winter.
"We're not sure, based on the numbers that we have, how many we can allow inside the building." said Cornell, "We'll evaluate at that time once the snow starts flying."