Sunday, June 16, 2024

We can’t all stay home. Some of us have no home to stay at. Many of us don’t have the resources to be able to. No paycheck, no food or rent. If direct-service providers close up shop, people will start dying of hunger, cold and all the other illnesses that follow. 

At the same time, we in that business do need to protect our clients, volunteers and staff. Creative solutions can be found – anybody in the food service industry should know this. When followed properly, accepted sanitary practices already protect us every day. When combined with creative thinking about how to add things such things social distancing and people flow, we should be able to carry out our jobs in relative safety.

At the free supper provided by the Harvard Square Churches Meal Program every Thursday at Christ Church Cambridge, we worried that we would be forced to close until this pandemic has run its course. Knowing that several similar programs had already been shuttered, we were faced with the knowledge that if we followed suit, the hole in the social safety net will be big enough that people fall through, and (maybe not today, but) people will die. Not from the virus, but from our fear.

So we sat down together and made a plan: Strict adherence to sanitary protocols, reduced staff and new procedures to ensure “social distancing” among our clients. We did not have the usual comfortable sit-down dining experience, but all comers were able to get a hot and tasty meal to go, with all the sides and extras. Sadly, we had to ask people to take it out and find another place to eat it. It’s not ideal, but it worked. 

We are smart enough to do it, but first we have to look beyond the headlines and see through the fear.

The Tsarnaev brothers made us Boston Strong. Right now we need to be Boston Together.

Mark Jaquith, Hurley Street