Three square meals a day - that's what Dennis Frame gets at the Caring Place.
Sometimes when he's working, he can't make it for the lunchtime meal, but now that he's between jobs, he's there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Caring Place receives a lot of complaints, said Frame, a Maple Ridge resident, but he thinks they are from people who haven't visited the Salvation Army facility.
"Without [the Caring Place], a lot of people would go hungry," Frame said, adding there are a lot of families and children who come to eat there.
The Caring Place recently surveyed its lunchtime clientele and concluded that 93 per cent of those who come for the noon meal identify as Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows residents.
Frame has lived in Maple Ridge since 1995 and worked for years building yachts with Seascape Marine on Fisherman Road in the Albion industrial park, but his work ended when production moved to China.
Many of the people he's gotten to know over the years at the Caring Place on 222nd Avenue and Lougheed Highway used to work in the mills or construction locally.
"There's a lot of jobs lost here," Frame said.
Frame also attends church services on Sundays at the Caring Place. The facility is also a Salvation Army church.
"There's a real misconception [about the Caring Place]," Frame said. "It's not a drug-gang hangout... It's a good community service."
For Frame, the Caring Place is a "safe" place.
The survey conducted over a week during the lunchtime meal program showed that people who regularly eat at the Caring Place are largely locals, many born and raised in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, said the facility's director Darrell Pilgrim.
This survey of about 200 people confirmed what the staff at the Caring Place thought about the origins of their clientele.
However, there tends to be a belief by some that the Salvation Army facility is attracting people from outside the community, according to Pilgrim.
"We've had a lot of people comment about people coming [to the Caring Place] from outside the community," Pilgrim said.
He pointed out every community in the Lower Mainland except Burnaby and Coquitlam have a shelter with meal programs - and Coquitlam is building one.
Of the seven per cent surveyed who said they weren't
Whonnock Lake Centre moving into District hands from Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, half said they from elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, and half were from outside the province.
In his personal opinion, Pilgrim said he thinks the perception that the Caring Place's clientele is being attracted from outside the community could be because "people want to believe that their community is the best."
"The truth of the matter is there are a lot of people living in poverty in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows," he added.
The meal program is partly about feeding people, Pilgrim said, but it is also about building community and getting Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows residents out of isolation.
The meal program serves 600 different people per month. The Caring Place also packages 115 bagged lunches per day for school children in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
This Tuesday, a group of friends were cooking and serving the meal. Pitt Meadows residents James and Rose Kang go fishing for salmon once a year and they serve this fish at the Caring Place twice a month, assisted by five other volunteers.
"We just want to help," said 17-year-old volunteer Hee Seung Shin, who was working in the kitchen with his mother So Jun Kim on Tuesday. "That's the Christian purpose - to share love."
@ Copyright 2013