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February 15 2013

Soup kitchen runs without gov’t support

WATSON LAKE Alphie Rae ladles generous portions of soup into bowls for Teddy and Chris, the first two patrons to show up to the Watson Lake St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen.

The two eat regularly at the nondescript building next to the Alaska Highway. All three men are on social assistance. Without the soup kitchen, they would struggle to make ends meet. In January, the kitchen served 235 meals and gave out 158 hampers of food - which can last about two weeks each. It’s a service that Fred Statham and a group of dedicated volunteers have been providing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for just over a year in a town that struggles with addictions and housing shortages.

“It’s a vital service that we’re providing. Every time I talk to the ministry (of Health and Social Services) they say it’s a duplication of services, but I think that over the last 15 months we’ve proved it’s a vital service, not a duplication,” Statham said. But Patricia Living, a spokesperson for the department, disputes this. She said there is no record of a discussion about the soup kitchen, and that Statham was not told his work was a duplication of services. “We did not feel at the time we had enough information to make a decision. If they are interested in doing outreach, they need to have a broader discussion with us,” Living said.

Read the full article by Jesse Winter on the Yukon News website.