PORTSMOUTH -- A deal to move the Salvation Army’s meal and ministry operations to Lafayette Road has fallen through, but, Maj. DonnaMarie Reed reports, a contingency plan is in place that includes a canteen truck.
The Salvation Army in February received unanimous city Zoning Board of Approval support, to operate a place of assembly at 2222 Lafayette Road, at a strip mall it planned to purchase. Reed said Wednesday the plan was not approved by Salvation Army headquarters so the Portsmouth operation is again looking for a new space.
Restaurateur and innkeeper Jay McSharry purchased the Salvation Army’s longtime downtown building and plans to convert it to a 15-room inn. Reed said McSharry has agreed to let the Salvation Army continue to operate there through the end of April.
"It gives us the opportunity to continue to do what we’ve done, during these crazy days," she said.
Reed said the Salvation Army serves breakfast on weekdays and dinners seven days a week. She said an average of 50 people are served meals daily and the number is growing to include people from the restaurant industry.
The Salvation Army is providing meals to go for those in need. Breakfast is provided from 7 to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and dinner is provided from 5 to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Restaurants across the state are limited to take-out only, per order of Gov. Chris Sununu, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Reed said Salvation Army meal service has been adjusted to ensure social distancing.
She said with the planned move to Lafayette Road off the table, her organization is again looking for a location with two or three offices, a meeting space and an area to cook. Reed said plans are in the works to begin cooking and serving from a canteen truck.
"If we don’t find a spot, we can serve from the canteen," she said.
When the truck is online, Reed said, the Salvation Army will publicize details, so the public will know what it looks like and where to find it.
"Some of the people we serve are concerned," she said. "But we’re committed. We’re working diligently to have a plan. We have a ministry here and community is very important to us."
Reed said real estate broker Wayne Semprini is working to find a new location for headquarters, perhaps temporary.
"People are still hungry," she said. "People are out of work."