Friendship Inn making major changes amid COVID-19, asking for help

The Friendship Inn in Saskatoon is being forced to make some major changes in light of COVID-19.

The community centre offers meals to vulnerable people every day. But with crackdowns on large gatherings and close contact with others, they're having to make those takeaway meals.

Sandra Kary, executive director of the Friendship Inn, said she's never seen the Inn forced to make such a drastic change in her time working there.

"Previously, we were providing about a thousand meals a day when we were serving inside the Inn," Kary said. "Now we are just trying to figure out how many meals we can serve and what our numbers will be like."

James Hopkin/CBC

Kary said people will be able to come and pick up the meals and then leave. She also noted heir guests are vulnerable people and it's about more than a meal.

"For any of us, our routines are all shifting and we're trying to do the best we can and make the best of it," she said. "They're doing OK. But it's not easy either. They do come to the Inn not just for food, but for friendship and a safe place to be."

The Friendship Inn currently has enough food and supplies for another three to five days. But with those things flying off store shelves, Kary said donations are going to be critical.

She's asking people for things like paper bags, sliced bread, and anything you'd put in a bagged lunch.

Financial help is brewing

Jenna Leith/CBC

A Saskatoon business is turning a sour situation into a delicious brew.

9 Mile Legacy Brewing created a special beer for the Juno Gala Dinner and Awards. When Juno Week was cancelled, they were stuck with all the beer.      Now, 9 Mile co-founder and CEO Shawn Moen said they're going to sell the beer and donate the money to the Friendship Inn.

"We were always uncomfortable with selling them and making money in the ordinary course," Moen said. "But this was a way that we could sell them. Take all of the returns and all of the receipts and get them over to the Friendship Inn and maybe create something positive out of a disappointing circumstance."

Jenna Leith/CBC

Moen said he appreciates the work done at the Friendship Inn, which is only about 450 metres down the block from his brewery.

"A business scrambles to make sure that we can continue operating. But what you sometimes lose sight of are the more vulnerable people in our community and the agencies that support them. The Friendship Inn [is] such an important part of the fabric of our community."

Moen said the beer is an imperial pilsner and it was the 999th batch they've brewed. Growlers were being sold for $30 each. They sold out in about six hours.