NOPE co-founders Kim Meier, Desiray Turrell and Richard Meier were busy handing out lunches from their office last week after the Salvation Army’s Warrior Song Cafe closed due to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

NOPE co-founders Kim Meier, Desiray Turrell and Richard Meier were busy handing out lunches from their office last week after the Salvation Army’s Warrior Song Cafe closed due to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Quesnel could run Warrior’s Song Café as Salvation Army looks to restaff

The food service was closed due to a lack of staff after a vaccine mandate from the Salvation Army

The closure of the Salvation Army Warrior’s Song Café food bank has left Quesnel with a big gap in services, according to mayor Bob Simpson.

In a verbal update given to city council during their Nov. 23 meeting, Simpson said the city has reached out to the Salvation Army regional commander and could take over running the café while the organization finds someone to run it permanently.

The Warrior’s Café food bank was closed after the Salvation Army implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“We found out from happenstance, from someone who found out by happenstance,” Simpson said, noting he had a “terse” email exchange with local Salvation Army leadership about closing without notice.

“I felt it was disservice to the community they serve, and our community not to work with us, give us advance notice if that’s the path they were on. We’ve agreed to disagree on that.”

The area commander overseeing Quesnel is Dave Macpherson.

“(Macpherson) is all in on helping us resolve this situation,” Simpson said, noting the Warrior’s Song Café not only provided meals, but also was a large supplier of baby formula and sent a lot of raw materials to other organizations.

Three people within the city also met to try and see what could be done.

Tony Goulet, who is a councillor, but also works with the Quesnel Tillicum Society and Friendship Centre, Kelsi Andrechuck, the city’s new community social coordinator and Corbin Bright, who works under the Canadian Mental Health Association will be working the Salvation Army to bring back services.

Andrechuck was only recently hired by the city through grant funding and presented to council earlier in the meeting, outlining her role.

“One of the options (the Salvation Army) has made available to us, is if we can find a way to coordinate the function, they will allow us to open the Warrior’s Café and run the food service out of that location,” Simpson said.

Simpson said the city is working to get the food donor list from the organization.

“The Salvation Army, for decades, has played a fundamental role in our community, and over the last little while, they’ve lost some purchase,” Simpson said.

“The commitment I’ve been given is they are going to come back to full service.”

Simpson added the city will be working with the Salvation Army to bring back and find a new location for their thrift store in Quesnel.

“We’ll get to a good place,” he said.

“It’s just been a bit of a shock.”

Simpson also praised the work other groups have been doing in the wake of the Warrior’s Song closure.

QuesnelSalvation Army