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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, May 23, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsClinic Provides Free Walk-Up Meals for St. Croix Homeless

Clinic Provides Free Walk-Up Meals for St. Croix Homeless

A client cuts the ribbon Wednesday and receives the first meal from the Giving with Grace refrigerator serving the homeless population of Frederiksted. Masserae Webster, Frederiksted Health Care chief executive officer, applauds.
A client cuts the ribbon Wednesday and receives the first meal from the Giving with Grace refrigerator serving the homeless population of Frederiksted. Masserae Webster, Frederiksted Health Care chief executive officer, applauds.

A refrigerator called “Grace,” standing on the front porch of the Frederiksted Health Care clinic, is the organization’s latest effort to serve St. Croix’s homeless community with meals, donated by area restaurants, accessible 24 hours a day and free of charge.

Masserae Webster, FHC chief executive officer, said that historically lunch has been the only meal available for the needy. My Brother’s Table in Frederiksted serves food during the week, leaving the homeless without resources at night or on weekends.

“Because in the community we were seeing our neighbors and the challenges they face, we started with the medical clinic. But then we were concerned about the daily need for food. People can’t be hungry and they were only getting one meal a day from Our Brother’s Table,” Webster said.

A member of the FHC staff, Leslie Rhymer, read about initiatives in India and the United to feed the homeless through refrigerators stocked with restaurant food. The management staff liked the idea and approached Coca Cola on St. Croix for a donation.

Akiela Chinouyazue, Coca Cola’s account manager, said at Wednesday’s ribbon cutting that the refrigerator donated by the company is worth around $3,000.

“We want to help anyway we can. Coca Cola gives out a lot in the U.S. and we want to do that too,” Chinouyazue said.

Another donor, Alvas Welding installed the appliance on the front porch of the health clinic in time for the dedication.

After acquiring the fridge, FHC staff approached Frederiksted restaurants and commercial kitchens. To date, 19 food establishments have volunteered to package, label and deliver meals to the project, named “Giving With Grace” by the staff. The single-serving containers note the date, contents and the name of supplier.

Sharon Charles, vice-principal at Claude O. Markoe Elementary School, attended Wednesday’s ribbon cutting and said the school plans to donate food every weekday.

According to Nicole Crossman, FHC case manager, the area’s homeless have been educated about using the refrigerator and the importance of taking only what they need.

“We have built trust with the clients and hopefully with the word spreading in the community, the community will understand the need,” Crossman said.

Webster said she believes the clients won’t take more than they need and will be considerate of their neighbors.

Stocked with meals and drinks for Frederiksted’s homeless, 'Grace' will be available 24/7.
Stocked with meals and drinks for Frederiksted’s homeless, ‘Grace’ will be available 24/7.

“Grace” is an extension of the monthly homeless clinic begun at FHC almost a year and a half ago. According to project manager Scott Hensley, 130 clients have been served to date. He said there are at least 300 homeless adults living in the Virgin Islands.

The Saturday clinic is a version of Project Homeless Connect, a program of the V.I. Department of Human Services, with the goal of feeding, clothing and providing health, hygiene and dental care to the homeless community.

FHC’s clinic provides breakfast and lunch, with the help of Anton Doos’s catering class at the St. Croix Education Complex and donations from members of the community of clothing, shoes, toiletries, hair cuts, social work services and medical tests. Webster said 45 to 50 attend the clinic every second Saturday of the month.

Frederiksted Health Care is a non-profit corporation that provides primary health care including family and pediatric medicine, obstetrics, gynecology and high-risk pregnancy service, mental health care, dermatology, STD testing and dental services at the Strand Street Facility in Frederiksted.

So far, the food donors include: Cozy Bar, Beachside Café, Cibone, Frederiksted Hotel, Bread Box, Los Angeles Café, Lions Pride, Maggie’s Snackett, Margarita’s, Mercedes, Napoleons Pizza, Polly’s at the Pier, Roadside BBQ, Rose’s Dream Cuisine, Sweet Bites, West Yam Yam, Freedom City Surf, Markoe School and St. Patrick’s School.

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