In 1984, a caring group of parishioners from St. Augustine’s Church, headed by the minister’s wife, Mrs. Mary Duff, were concerned at the number of hungry people knocking on the manse door, and saw the need for a soup kitchen to feed these people.
The Vestry of St. Augustine’s Church gave permission to use the Parish Hall for this purpose on a temporary basis. It was felt at that time that the slump in the economy was to be short-lived, so their thinking about “temporary” was realistic then. Letters were mailed to local churches, requesting their participation. The initial response was slow, but soon 34 churches came forward and expressed their willingness to take their turns at serving a hot noon meal to the needy. Four other church organizations also offered to assist with some funding but no work, and these joined the Association as associate members, while the participating churches became full-fledged members with voting rights. From this membership, a Board of Directors was elected, consisting of not less than ten and not more than fifteen people, which administered the affairs of the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen. The first noon meal was served on October 1st, 1984.
Early in 1986, we had to Leave St. Augustine’s Church hall and kitchen, which had been our home for fifteen months. We spent some time in St. Patrick’s Church, then shifted to Southminster United Church. Meanwhile, we went to the City of Lethbridge to try to get their help in finding us a permanent home. For an interim home, they gave us the use of the courtroom on the second floor of the old courthouse building, and using the kitchen facilities of Southminster United Church, we served our daily meal from March 18th to June 30th, 1986. Meanwhile, the City purchased the former Moose Hall, located at 1107-2nd Avenue A North, and on July 1st we served our first meal from our new permanent home. The City of Lethbridge was a good landlord, and we paid no rent. We had to pay our utilities which were estimated at $600.00 per month.
This move entailed some considerable expense, most of which was eventually covered by specific donations. However, we had to buy tables and chairs, we had to complete the installation of the dishwasher and the cooler, and many other things needed to be done. Although we began with the assistance of thirty four churches, ten dropped out prior to 1987 for a variety of reasons.
We have now been serving the hungry in Lethbridge for more than 30 years, and are pleased to enjoy the support of many, many community members, in many forms, including time, food donations, and funds.