Winter is just around the corner again, and here in Ann Arbor we have already had several snowy days. We continue to serve breakfast every morning to anyone who needs it. Because of the increase of COVID-19 cases in Michigan, we have made the decision to remain for the time being with our current take-out style breakfast. We are thankful for the two local bakeries who provide us with hot breakfast sandwiches in the mornings. They are Great Harvest Bread Co. (https://GreatHarvestAA.com/) and Brewed Awakenings Café (https://brewedawakeningscafe.com/). They have been wonderful to work with and our breakfast guests really appreciate the sandwiches.
As the weather has turned colder we have continued to serve daily carry-out meals to our guests. Last week we were able to begin an exciting partnership with Brewed Awakenings Cafe and Salt Springs Brewery, both located in Saline. These local restaurants are providing us with hot sandwiches each morning so that our guests can receive a hot meal all winter long. The owners of these restaurants have been wonderful to work with, and the joy on the faces of our guests when we were able to hand them each a delicious breakfast sandwich was truly something to see. 2020 has shown us how important living in community with one another is and this is just another example of what we can all accomplish working together. Both of these restaurants are open for carry-out right now. Please consider visiting them next time you are ordering in!
We have continued to serve breakfast to anyone in need every single day in 2020. While we cannot gather indoors, our volunteers and guests have still found remarkable ways to live in community this summer and fall. Our volunteers have been extremely consistent and they have gotten to know our guests in ways that just cannot happen under normal circumstances. We have been able to celebrate our guests returning to restaurant jobs and finding permanent housing prior to the weather turning cold. We were able to wish the Breakfast Program a happy 38th birthday together in August with pop-tarts and special cards in each breakfast bag. Most importantly, we have been able to maintain the consistency that everyone has craved in 2020.
Heading into the winter, breakfast will continue to be served as a carry-out meal until it is safe to gather in our dining hall again. We have installed an infrared heater outside the doors and we are working with the shelter association to ensure everyone’s needs are met this winter. This is not the way we would choose to head into the winter this year, but as always we will open our doors with hot coffee and smiles for all.
The mission statement for The Breakfast Program at St. Andrew’s reads, “We are a community providing a daily hot breakfast and welcoming space to anyone who is in need. We do this to nourish and strengthen all those who come through our doors.” Continuing on this mission in the time of COVID-19 has not been an easy task, and our guests no longer walk through our doors, but the heart of the mission: breakfast and community still stands.
We currently distribute a hot breakfast from our front doors and many of our guests stay outside to eat and socialize (while observing social distancing). We are still providing more than a meal, this is a place to see friendly faces, chat with volunteers and other guests, and most importantly a place to feel loved and seen.
Our volunteers who are running our daily distribution have been the absolute backbone of this program. In order to be on a distribution team you must be under 60 with no pre-existing health conditions and you must have another member of your household willing to volunteer with you. Each day of the week a household team of 2-3 people comes in and prepares and distributes all of the food. This system is allowing our volunteers to work in the kitchen without observing social distancing requirements, but it means that our volunteers have lost their volunteer community. The fact that these teams continue to come in so tirelessly and selflessly means the world to both me and the breakfast guests.
This system is not without significant cost, carry out containers, granola bars, individual butter packets, these items add up. We are blessed to have many generous supporters keeping us going during this time. If you feel moved to donate more information is on the donate page of our website.
Because of all of this, breakfast continues to be served, as it has been every day since 1982. Thank you to everyone who continues to support the program through sharing our Facebook page, donations, and word of mouth. Without you we could not serve the way we do.
Effective Tuesday March 17, 2020 breakfast will move to a carry out model for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. This decision was not made lightly, but after much conversation we decided this was in the best interest of both our volunteers and guests. We will still be serving a hot meal including oatmeal, fruit, hard boiled eggs, juice, cereal bars, and coffee. All of these items will be packaged by a small team of volunteers each morning for distribution to anyone in need. We will also make our restroom and hand washing facilities available to guests during this time.
In addition to this change we are strongly recommending that any volunteers in high risk categories do not volunteer at breakfast at this time. We will miss you, but we want you to stay healthy. Volunteers who have traveled in the previous fourteen days or show any signs of illness should also stay home.