Major David Cope stands beside Salvation Army canteen

EMERGENCY CANTEEN — Major Cope poses beside the Salvation Army “canteen” used to provide food and service during disasters or emergencies.

Beginning June 1, The Open Door is going mobile.

Under the terms of a renegotiated lease at 32 Commerce St. in Waynesville, no direct services to the homeless population will be offered. The current dining area will be used to expand the Second Blessings Thrift Store, said Tom Owens, director of ministries for Long’s Chapel Methodist Church, the entity that has long operated a thrift store, a soup kitchen and multiple other services intended to serve those without a home or who are down on their luck.

While meals will still be prepared out of the kitchen, for now, volunteers will work through The Salvation Army to distribute and serve the meals at multiple locations that are yet to be determined. The transition happens June 1. How long the arrangement will continue is up in the air.

Major David Cope with The Salvation Army said the organization’s canteen is available now, but could be called away at a moment’s notice.

“The canteen is available until the need is complete or until there is some natural disaster where we’re called out to another place,” Cope said. “We were in Buncombe County for a few weeks doing the same thing there as we’ll be doing with The Open Door. We’re excited about the venture.”

Owens said even after the dining room becomes retail space, the kitchen will remain, perhaps to later be used for another social enterprise in the hospitality business, much as Second Blessings generates revenue in the retail business to sustain the church’s mission work.

“We’re grateful to continue using space at 32 Commerce St. as a way to fuel our mission which is going mobile,” Owens said.

No permanent location has been found to continue the current services offered at The Open Door, which span everything from a mail delivery spot to a cell phone charging station to showers to laundry services in addition to food distribution and meals — pre-COVID, that is.

For now, a mobile service will be offered and could continue well into the future if the model is successful.

“Our long-term vision it to provide the best mental health, nutritional and addiction resources we can,” Owens said. “We’ll experiment and try to find the best way to accomplish that.”

Cope invited individuals interested in volunteering with food service delivery and serving to contact Nadine Beach at The Salvation Army by calling 456-7111, ext. 5.

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