VANCOUVER -- The Union Gospel Mission is hosting its annual Thanksgiving feast in an alternative format, in order to respect COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

Normally, the charity hosts a sit-down turkey meal with hundreds of guests and many volunteers. But instead, the mission, located in the Downtown Eastside, will be distributing 1,600 meals-to-go over a four-day period.

Volunteer cooks wore personal protective equipment including face shields and masks. Among the volunteers was Jennifer Allan, a woman who has survived both homelessness and COVID-19.

“It feels really good to actually meet people and see people where I once was, and give them food, and let them know they’re not forgotten about,” she said.

Jeremy Hunka, spokesperson for the UGM, said that due to the pandemic community members are needing extra support.

“We’re seeing a surge in need, and people need to know they have some hope, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, ” he said.