A new warming centre delayed by staffing shortages gets on track in Kingston this weekend, located at the former Odd Fellows Hall on Concessions Street.
The opening of this centre fills a void for a warming centre in Kingston's downtown area, nearly two years after the early closure of a centre located on Wellington due to concerns and uncertainty around COVID-19.
The building is owned by Patry enterprises, and will be leased by Lionhearts Inc. with funding help from United Way KFL&A and the City of Kingston.
The Warming and Drop-In Centre was initially announced on December 13, aiming to be open as of December 27 but hasn't been able to be fully operational due to staffing issues over the past couple weeks.
Last year, Lionhearts partnered with the Kingston Street Mission to provide meals out of Stages, which has yet to reopen its' doors to the public since the pandemic began.
Lionhearts Executive Director Travis Blackmore says the meals program will operate very similarly to what was seen at Stages last year, once again partnering with the Kingston Street Mission.
The space will act as a warming space until 11:30, with meals available seven days a week from 6:00 to 7:00 pm.
At the warming centre people can get winter clothes, hygiene kits and other items collected thanks to donations from the community.
The space will also house some of the community overnight, with that portion being operated by Home Base Housing.
Lionhearts serves 120-140 meals per day with the evening program, and one of the programs that helps them provide these meals is Food Rescue, which works to collect and sort through food earmarked for the garbage at local restaurants and grocery stores.
Blackmore says while the list of partners and amount of donated food has grown in that regard, the organization hopes to further connect with contributors.
He says that businesses should know Lionhearts makes donating food waste an easy process.
"There's infrastructure in place for us to be able to either pick up from them or some places have the availability to bring it to us," Blackmore said.
"Anytime you donate to a food reclamation charity then they take on the responsibility of sorting what is not edible versus what is edible."
Blackmore says the charity also distributes some food that doesn't meet the quality needs for humans to local farmers.
The warming centre has a capacity of 35, and can house up to 19 overnight.