A soup kitchen in the Hull sector of Gatineau, Que., resumed sit-down meal service this week after suspending the program last spring following a series of violent incidents.
Michel Kasongo, director of the La Soupe populaire de Hull, said the facility, located in the Centre Yolande-Duval on boulevard des Allumettières, switched to take-out only meals last April.
Other services including a dental clinic and social housing continued, he said.
In addition to those services, Kasongo said the building acts as a local hub where people who are struggling can access support to help find housing and health care, including mental health supports.
"It is a meeting place, a crossroads for families and people," Kasongo said in a French-language interview.
Director Michel Kasongo said staff feel they have a better handle on the situation now than they did last spring. (Radio-Canada)
Demand for services intensified
However, demand for those services was so great that the centre became overcrowded, leading to violent incidents.
"The lack of resources meant that there was a high number of people at the soup kitchen. We were the only place, which created tensions," Kasongo told Radio-Canada.
"We had to restrict access because of situations of violence, which were becoming unbearable."
Kasongo noted the recent addition of heating tents at Robert Guertin Centre arena has taken some of the pressure off the centre.
"That makes all the difference. There's not as much pressure as before," he said.
The soup kitchen resumed sit-down meal service Monday, and Kasongo said the reopening has gone well.
According to a news release, the reopening was made possible by an agreement with the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais, the regional health and social services authority.