Local shelter, in need of help, starts efforts to support guests and local restaurants

Posted at 11:11 AM, May 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 07:46:15-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- The breakfast service was underway at the Peninsula Rescue Mission Sunday morning, as staff cracked eggs, cooked bacon, and toasted slices of bread.

While the kitchen operations appeared to go smoothly, the coronavirus pandemic actually made an impact to how meals are prepared for its roughly 18 guests, according to the shelter.

"We get a lot of volunteer support throughout the year," Allen DeFriese, PRM's CEO, said. "Almost every night there are volunteers to help serve and also in many cases provide the meals. That's all had to stop because of the pandemic."

A decrease in donations, price increases for food and the number of staff available are some factors as a result of the pandemic. In response, PRM created a new effort called "Adopt-a-Meal," which requires the help of generous donors.

Here's how it works: a donor orders food from a local restaurant and brings it to the shelter. The donated and prepared food is then served to the shelter's guests.

"We are helped, our kitchen staff is given a break and local businesses are boosted because of a really large take-out order for them," DeFriese said.

Paul Speight, PRM's director of development, added that, "Right now, it's just been our kitchen staff working by themselves so that's been the biggest change for them."

There were just three staff workers in the kitchen, maintaining social distancing. Speight said there can be upwards to 10 people preparing food consisting mostly of volunteers.

"The workload our volunteers take on has been all put on our guys and they've been handling it tremendously," Speight said. "We just need people to be involved with 'Adopt-a-Meal' so we can open up our doors and get volunteers back in."

PRM said donors will receive a tax-deductible receipt equal to the amount they paid for their donation. Monetary donations can be made online on PRM's donations page. Donors can specify their donation be made for "Adopt-a-Meal."

The mission also has information on its website for those who would like to volunteer.