By MAX MARCUS, Staff Writer
Published: 4/6/2020 4:17:50 PM
GREENFIELD — As some community meals programs have been disrupted by restrictions on gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, some, like those of the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew, have been adapted and updated to fill in where others have been forced to shut down.
On Sunday, the church started a new free lunch program, which the Rev. Heather Blais, the church’s rector, explained is intended to fill in for a regular Sunday free lunch on the Greenfield Common, hosted by an organization called Cathedral in the Light, which has been canceled by the state’s ban on large public gatherings.
There are still free meals in Greenfield on Saturdays and Mondays, but Cathedral in the Light’s lunch was the only one on Sundays, Blais said.
“Two days is a long time for anyone who counts on a community meal to go between meals,” she said. “This is just something simple to make sure there’s food in bellies that need food.”
To fit with the public health rules of the coronavirus crisis, the church’s new meal is packed in a paper bag and handed out by a volunteer from an eye-level window in the Whiteman Room that opens to the church’s parking lot. At the next window over, another volunteer gives out cups of coffee. The whole interaction takes less than a minute.
“We wanted to make it super simple for folks to pick up, and keep people picking up food and our volunteers both as safe and healthy as possible,” Blais said.
The new lunch is every Sunday from noon to 12:30 p.m. For now, it is scheduled through the end of May.
Existing church programs have also been updated so they can continue during the coronavirus crisis.
The church’s free Second Helpings dinner is still available, but is likewise distributed through the take-away windows. It is now Mondays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
The church’s toiletries pantry, which it offers the last Monday of every month, is also still available, but is happening through the take-away window. The next one is April 27, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Even church services are still happening. Blais led a service Sunday morning by video conference, and said evening services will be likewise held every day for Holy Week.
“We’re still doing things as best as we can,” she said.