Panama City Rescue Mission and St. Joe Hospitality providing free hot meals

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 5:28 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Local organizations are teaming up to give folks a hot meal to accompany the cold nights this week.

“This year is so much more important than ever before to support areas like Panama City rescue mission,” Watercolor Inn and Resort General Manager Gabrielle Testa said.

The Panama City Rescue Mission and St. Joe Hospitality will be handing out free meals to anyone in need for three nights from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

“Of course, my favorite is the mashed potatoes. So they’ll definitely be in the meal but we have pork loin, we have chicken, we have some ham,” Testa said.

The community can find these meals at the Gateway Campus for Women and Children, also known as Bethel Village off 11th Street in Panama City. There will be outdoor social distance seating, or you can grab a to-go meal.

Those who come out will also have the opportunity to tour the women’s campus. Volunteers are also sharing information about the newly rebranded Gateway Life Transformation Program.

Volunteers said this year is especially important to help each other out.

“The more we’re together and the more we take of care each other, I just think the more fruitful we will be in 2021 and I know everyone is looking forward to that,” Testa said.

Even the rescue mission itself facing hardship in 2020. Both men’s campuses are currently closed. One is under renovation and other is closed due to a fire.

“Our men’s facility has been closed down since the beginning of November when we had a fire and that’s where we were serving daily community meals. It broke our hearts that we had to not serve the community meal anymore,” Panama City Rescue Mission President and CEO Stephen Fett said.

Although they haven’t been operating as normal, the Rescue Mission is happy to do what they can with what they have.

“It is something that the rescue mission has been known for historically. The evening meal at 5 o’clock, anybody can come. And it feels good to get back to that again,” Fett said.

Fett also said he hopes another local organization is able to step up and help the homeless population while they fix their buildings.

“If somebody is willing to open up a facility for us, we can help run it. We can actually run it whether a church or an I used public facility of some sort. We have the staff, we can take over,” Fett said.

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