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Gathering Place continuing to manage increasing numbers

'That is a sign that it is harder and harder for them to cope'
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The Gathering Place. File photo by Chris Dawson/BayToday.

The North Bay Gathering Place soup kitchen continues to serve more and more meals it seems. 

"I think the numbers are still high," admitted Dennis Chippa, executive director at the North Bay Gathering Place.  

"We don't expect them to drop, for instance, we had over 100 through for lunch today. A few years ago around the middle of the month that would be around 75.

"Tonight we will do a meal where there will be 120 or 130 probably and that is pretty normal. It is a sad normal. It is a reality we are seeing these kinds of numbers coming in that high."

He says there appears to be more of an intense need.  

"I think that is the way to put it," said Chippa.  

"We are seeing a lot more women, we are seeing a lot more seniors. We are seeing a lot more people coming at night, especially for meals for the family."

Chippa says he once the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and more jobs were re-opened that numbers would drop.  

"We kind of saw an increase during the pandemic and thought once everything re-opened and everybody started going back to work and stuff that that would change and it has not and those numbers are still high," he said. 

Chippa says not only do they continue to serve meals to more and more new faces. He says they also are seeing more people, more often. 

"Frequency is another change," said Chippa.  

"So we might have seen them a couple of times a month, maybe once or twice a week. Now we are seeing them more often. Some we saw three times a week and now we see them at almost every meal. 

"That is a sign that it is harder and harder for them to cope." 

Chippa notes that when it gets closer to the holiday season the community tends to be very supportive. 

"I know we are thinking about Christmas and donations but at the same time, I am looking toward what is December and January going to look like for COVID-19 numbers, for masking. Are we going to have to bring out the masks again as we did before? Will the numbers go up more in December and January? I am anticipating after Christmas they probably will. We will have that drop between Christmas and New Year's, but by mid-January our numbers will go back up." 

Chippa says they are already planning for February's Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser where he hopes the key fundraising event can be in-person once again. 

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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