The Salvation Army has shutdown its soup kitchen and food bank after a mandatory vaccine mandate went into effect Monday, Nov. 15. “Very few people are fully vaccinated, so we don’t have enough people to run the operations,” said Salvation Army Major Randy Gatza. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

The Salvation Army has shutdown its soup kitchen and food bank after a mandatory vaccine mandate went into effect Monday, Nov. 15. “Very few people are fully vaccinated, so we don’t have enough people to run the operations,” said Salvation Army Major Randy Gatza. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

COVID-19 vaccine mandate disrupts Quesnel Salvation Army services

Warrior Song Cafe closed

Bagged lunches were handed out by the Northern Network of Peers for Equality (NOPE) in downtown Quesnel on Tuesday, Nov. 16 following the unexpected closure of the Salvation Army’s Warrior’s Song Cafe.

The soup kitchen by the Salvation Army typically provided 80 meals from Tuesday to Friday.

“So you look at roughly 300 or so meals a week being given out, and that’s not counting the food bank,” said Salvation Army Major Randy Gatza.

Efforts to provide food security to those in need by the Salvation Army were brought to an abrupt halt as a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine mandate took effect Monday, Nov. 15, for staff and volunteers.

Read More: Workers who lose jobs over COVID vaccine mandates will not be eligible for lockdown benefit

Gatza said very few are vaccinated but expressed optimism that the closure will be temporary.

“Our headquarters in Burnaby is working on trying to temporarily hire someone who is trained to try to get the operations running again, and we’re looking at possibly within two weeks to do that,” he noted.

“I’m going to be talking with my supervisors later on and see what plans they have. It sounds promising.”

The organization’s dining hall has been closed since March 2020. Their thrift store permanently closed three months later after their lease ended, and there are no immediate plans to re-open.

Because the vaccine mandate also applies to the Christmas Kettle Campaign, the Quesnel Salvation Army will not be hosting the annual in-person holiday fundraiser.

Gatza said the Salvation Army had been operating the Warrior’s Song Cafe for the past 20 months throughout the pandemic.

“People are faithful and committed, and all of a sudden now, because they don’t get the jab, they can’t do their job that they were doing so well…and that’s sad,” he said.


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