“It seems like it’s been a lifetime ago when we saw peace and regular programming taking place at our centre.”

That comment is from Chris Goertzen of Steinbach, he is on the foundation board for The Mennonite Centre in Molochansk, Ukraine.

People line up to access meals and other supports from The Mennonite Centre in Molochansk, Ukraine. (Photo submitted)“In the last number of weeks, we’ve transitioned from providing community building programs to providing food and shelter for individuals, to working with a crisis and working in a crisis,” he says. “In fact, where the centre is right now, the community is occupied by the Russian troops and so that has changed how things transpire in that community.”

The fighting has moved on from Molochansk where the centre is located at this time, farther toward Zaporizhzhia, north of the centre.

“That allows our staff, who are still there, who are still working, who are providing food and shelter and medication for people, to continue their work. In fact, our work has become much more important because we are now the only place providing hot meals for people who have no food,” Goertzen says.

“So, that’s been really vital in our centre alone, never mind all the other areas that we’ve been helping. We are serving 300 to 500 meals a day. Above that, we are also providing for other soup kitchens, delivering food hampers and dollars to make those purchases. Our role has become even more important. Because we have local staff who have stayed through the conflict, they have been able to continue that work.”

he war in Ukraine has regarding the global food supply, it is important to note that the food shortage also exists for people who are in Ukraine. Goertzen says there was some pre-planning that happened to prepare for a food shortage in the communities they serve.

“Frankly, we stock-piled a lot of food that we could then use over time,” he explains. “There's been such value in that preplanning that took place. We are the go-to place for people’s nutritional needs in that community and others. So, we have store owners that are coming to us, who want to sell their whole stores to us so that we can provide food to the people who need it most.”