The weekly Tuesday meals at Old First, which have fed 548 individuals this year, have been serving an increasing number of guests over the past few months. Pastor Maggi, of Old First, created a relationship with the Blue Fog Deli and Market on Polk and Sacramento, who now provide free day-old pastries and bread for the Welcome meals. This has resulted in more substantial meals, which the guests appreciate. In the past few months, the leadership at the meals have been able to provide tickets to a musical performance, phone calls to social workers and representative payees, clothing referrals to the St Vincent de Paul's Help Desk, prayers for those who ask for them, mail service and accompaniment to the County Welfare office.
Our 2nd and 4th Saturday meals have feed 1,320 individuals so far this year. We have stopped giving away clothing at our Old First meals. Individuals interested in donating clothes, should take them to our St. Francis location. Guests who are in need of clothing or blankets are directed to see leaders at Old First, who will make clothing referrals, or distribute some of the small supply of clothing and blankets that are typically on hand. Volunteers who had previously taken on clothing distribution at Old First meals are now distributing toiletries and socks, when we have them.
One issue Welcome has been looking at, and will continue to explore, is the possibility of eliminating the line outside of the church on Saturday evenings. There have been no complaints so far, but we would like to encourage our guests to spend the time waiting elsewhere - hopefully in a place more comfortable than the sidewalk – in light of the fact that being first in line does not mean one is served first. Once inside the church, there is no line for guests. Everyone sits and is served restaurant style.