A celebration marked over half a century of helping those experiencing poverty at the Saskatoon Friendship on Thursday afternoon.

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It all began when a small group of concerned residents provided six hungry men with the first bowls of soup on March 4, 1969.

From day one, the Friendship Inn operated because 52 different churches each claimed a calendar week, providing volunteers to assist the few paid cooks and managers. That model continued for 15 years.

Volunteers have continued to be the lifeblood of the centre, officials said.

“In the first year, an average of 100 meals were served per day, and now 50 years later, we are serving upwards of 1,000 meals daily to children, youth, adults and senior citizens,” Friendship Inn executive director Sandra Kary said in a press release.

“Over the last 50 years, the Friendship Inn has become a symbol of help and hospitality in the heart of a busy city — with each meal served with a healthy portion of warmth and understanding.”

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At 619 20th St. West, people can access free breakfast and lunch 365 days year as well as a family worker, plus information on topics ranging from health to the law.

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