Amid the downpour of a winter storm late last month, local nonprofit Hope's Corner celebrated serving its 100,000th meal. The organization, which provides free meals to homeless, low-income and vulnerable people, marked the occasion with decorations and balloons at its facility at Hope and Mercy streets in Mountain View.
About 70 people attended the Wednesday, Jan. 27, lunch service and the person who was served the 100,000th meal received a $25 gift card.
The milestone came a little more than three years after Hope's Corner served its 50,000th meal. The pandemic has led the nonprofit to more than double its services since April 2020, when it added a second meal service each week.
"The 2020 number of meals was 24,957. The 2019 number was 10,629 meals" according to Hope's Corner board member Leslie Carmichael.
The organization began as a weekly program, serving a free breakfast and bag lunch every Saturday to people in need. Since last spring, Hope's Corner has also been serving Wednesday lunches and to-go snacks, overall providing about 400 hot meals every Saturday and another 200-300 meals on Wednesdays.
The nonprofit has had to shift to serving meals outdoors due to COVID restrictions and began also offering drive-thru meal pickup in addition to its existing walk-up option.
"We totally changed our operation, of course, to serve outside, and to serve in to-go containers, but also on the volunteer side, we had to scale back on how many volunteers we can have on-site at a time. We actually split our crew into two teams so we could alternate to provide additional protection and continuity if someone did get sick," Carmichael said.
With the addition of weekly Wednesday lunches that started in 2020, Hope's Corner sought support from local faith communities to help sponsor the lunches with a financial donation and provide a small team of volunteers.
"That's been very successful. We've had quite a few different communities step up to help us with that," Carmichael said.
In fact, the support of many volunteers, along with donations from both large organizations and individual community members helped Hope's Corner quickly ramp up its services and accommodate public health concerns at the same time.
"Those factors are all part of how we were able to address the increased need with a lot of people out of work, and trying hard to stretch their dollars to continue to pay their rent and their other bills," Carmichael said.