Although Blanchet House has been very successful serving to-go meals during the pandemic, we miss welcoming guests inside the Founder’s Café. While COVID-19 safety restrictions are easing in our area, Blanchet House will not be able to invite people indoors to dine until we are allowed to serve at 100% seating capacity. Reduced seating rules cause great anxiety and stress for our guests waiting in line to eat. We want to be able to serve hundreds of people equitably within a one-hour meal service and accommodate guests who need extra time to enjoy their food. Limited seating combined with enforced mask-wearing and vaccination verification makes it impossible to safely and hospitably serve food indoors.
As a House of Hospitality, we want to ensure that our meal guests, volunteers, and residents feel safe and supported. We’re working with other nonprofits, the city of Portland, and Multnomah County to bring trained staff on-site that can respond to crises in a trauma-informed, compassionate, and de-escalating way. Pandemic fatigue and lack of services available over the past year have taken a heavy toll on the mental health of many of us. The mental and physical health needs of our guests experiencing homelessness are much greater now than prior to the pandemic.
In 2020, Blanchet House expanded its services to meet increased needs by offering clothing, sleeping essentials, hygiene kits, sack lunches, peer support, phone charging, and partnerships to get food to more people. We want to be sure that we can continue to provide these new services when dining resumes indoors so the café needs to be reconfigured a bit to make space and add support staff. We’re also seeking funding to continue these services.
When we do resume indoor services, we want to be sure that we can stay open. Opening and then closing due to changing COVID-19 restrictions would be extremely upsetting and disruptive to our meal guests and logistically difficult for us. Indoor and outdoor service requires different staff, food, tools, containers, and maintenance. Until we can open our cafe at full capacity we will continue to serve three meals a day, Mon-Sat, from our take-out windows.
Thank you for your continued patience, support, and understanding.