One of the first people to realise the horrifying human impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent economic shutdown was David Thompson, convener of the outreach committee of Christ Church in Warwick. Members of his community were going hungry, and he took immediate action.
“Every Saturday we washed laundry for the homeless,” he explains. “They had showers and then we sent them up the hill to the kitchen for a nice cooked breakfast. Then COVID came along, and things started to get nasty.
“The Loren and Butterfield Group got together to distribute meals across the island, so we volunteered to use the church as a distribution centre and used to get about 25 meals per day. As lockdown set in and people became more desperate, those 25 meals were not nearly enough!”
The church has an industrial-sized kitchen, so Thompson and his team including Rev. Alistair Bennett, minister of Christ Church, Jill Bosch De Noya, and logistics co-ordinators Julia Kempe and Barbara Outerbridge started cooking and distributing meals there every day of the week. “About half were distributed from the church, but half didn’t have transport, so we delivered mainly in the Warwick area, but beyond those boundaries as well,” he continues.
Between March 2020 and the time of writing, Thompson and his team of volunteers have prepared and distributed a phenomenal 110,000 meals to people in need. They also hand out Marketplace food vouchers to families with young children for other essentials such as diapers and formula.
“We had incredible support from the community, both corporate and individuals,” he says. He emphasises that none of this could have been done without his “amazing team” and the “over a hundred” volunteers, including drivers and kitchen staff, who continue to turn up and help every day. “If I add all the bakers, it multiplies. Every day people turn up with cakes, cookies, fruit.”
When Thompson looks back on the last two years, he is still overwhelmed by “how willing people were to jump in and support what we were doing without even a thought of their own safety.” The father-of-four also praises his family. “It wasn’t just me. All my family came and supported me.
“Since COVID started so many businesses have closed their doors, some permanently. We don’t discriminate. If you come to our door and you’re hungry, you get a meal.”