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St. Vincent de Paul in Billings meets demand for meals

Posted at 9:33 PM, Apr 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-26 23:33:35-04

St. Vincent de Paul has a new weekend meal program in Billings.

It is taking care of a need with some non-profits challenged by COVID-19 and and the Stay At Home.

A volunteer checks temperatures before the meal.

It's one part of keeping people safe.

"What we're trying to do is really respect that social distancing," said Craig Barthel, St. Vincent de Paul executive director. "We have a capacity on this floor of 120 people and today we're just allowing 40 people or even a little bit less most days to come in eat. But now we're having to serve that in three sittings."

This is the second weekend of serving meals on Saturday and Sunday.

"We've done a Saturday brunch," Barthel said. "We started that program in October when we found out so many people were not eating on the weekends. COVID-19, what it did for us, we realized that with other agencies shutting down, these folks really don't have a place to eat at all. And so we've expanded that program to not only a Saturday brunch, but a Sunday brunch as well."

St. Vincent de Paul needed some help so some of those who are homeless volunteered to help.

"We lost a lot of our staff and volunteers," Barthel said. "Knowing that our volunteers were getting up there in age so they really couldn't be down here to volunteer any longer and we encouraged them to stay home. The people that would normally come down here and eat that we would serve. We asked them to step up and volunteer. They've done an amazing job."

St. Vincent de Paul is serving more than 1,000 meals a week and has about 50 who make food donations.

"We've never fed people better than we're feeding them today," Barthel said. "Our sack dinner program has never been better than it has today. And we have a surplus and that's how the community has stepped up."

St. Vincent de Paul serves three meals a day Monday through Friday and now two meals a day on Saturday and Sunday.