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Portland's Preble Street shelter switches to all 'to-go' meals amid coronavirus, COVID-19

Preble Street will provide three meals each day for guests at the shelter where they are staying.
Credit: NCM

PORTLAND, Maine — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Portland's Preble Street shelter is launching a new best practice model that it says prioritizes the public health of the community and re-imagines the way they deliver essential services.

By switching to an all “to-go” model with prepared meals and emergency food boxes, Preble Street said the food program is reaching more people than ever before.

Due to the public health risk of coronavirus spreading when large numbers of people gather, the shelter will not longer be providing food at the soup kitchen door or inside the dining room.

The city of Portland, however, said it was was not notified by Preble Street that they were going to use Deering Oaks Park for distribution of meals). The city says it sent the director of Preble Street an email, notifying them that they need to cease and desist this use of public space until they apply for and receive a permit for this use. The city says this includes distribution in parks, sidewalks, and city squares. They say they are waiting to hear back from Preble Street.

Sunday, July 12 is the last day prepared meals will be served or given out at 252 Oxford Street. There will be no breakfast, lunch, or dinner given out at the Soup Kitchen door after this date.

As of Monday, July 13:

  • The Resource Center Soup Kitchen & Dining Room is a permanent food production and distribution facility — prepared meals are no longer served or handed out from our 252 Oxford St location.
  • Everyone staying in shelters is able to get three meals 365 days/year at their shelter. This includes Oxford Street Shelter, Milestone Shelter, the Expo Shelter, Florence House Shelter, and the Preble Street Teen Services. Preble Street will provide three meals each day for guests at the shelter where they are staying.
  • If someone is experiencing homelessness and unable to stay at one of the shelters, they can access meals twice a day from the new Preble Street Street Outreach Collaborative. This program provides outreach services and 2 meals every day on a mobile basis to small groups at various stops around Portland where clients spend time or have appointments. Morning meals will be distributed between 9-10 a.m. and afternoon meals will be distributed between 3:30-4:30 p.m. with services all day helping connect people with shelter, housing, health services, IDs, clothing, and other things to help them work toward goals.
  • Food boxes/groceries are still available to pick up at 252 Oxford St Tuesday-Saturday from 1:30-4 p.m. Everyone who has a place to stay can use the Food Pantry to take food back to their home or where they are staying. The shelter said it will also have food for people who are staying in places with limited cooking ability.

The city of Portland, however, said it was was not notified by Preble Street that they were going to use Deering Oaks Park for services (distribution of meals). The city sent the director of Preble Street an email, notifying them that they need to cease and desist this use of public space until they apply for and receive a permit for this use. The city says this includes distribution in parks, sidewalks, and city squares. They say they are waiting to hear back from Preble Street.

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