Following a year with an unusual amount of public activism, one of Pendleton’s first protests of the year had an unusual target: the Salvation Army.
Several picketers stood in front of The Salvation Army Church of Pendleton at 150 S.E. Emigrant Ave. on Wednesday and waved signs about the reduction of lunch services at the church.
Pastor Ricky Scruggs, the church’s leader, said the protest was due to a disgruntled employee and a misunderstanding over a temporary closure.
Scruggs said the Salvation Army offers a free daily lunch six days per week, a service that averages 40-70 people per day.
Earlier this week, Scruggs said staff needed to do a deep clean of their facilities Monday through Wednesday. Without a cook since just before Thanksgiving, he said the organization didn’t have the staff to remain open but resumed lunch services on Wednesday.
It’s a struggle to keep services going, Scruggs said, but there’s no plans to reduce or eliminate the lunches. The Salvation Army recently hired a new cook who is scheduled to start next week.
A lack of cooks can make operating a nonprofit food service difficult. When the Active Senior Center of Pendleton went an extended period of time without a cook, the organization temporarily stopped their four-day-a-week lunch service for a month while they continued to search for a replacement.
Scruggs said the protest was organized by a former employee who has been speaking out against the Salvation Army since she was let go.
When the group picketed on Wednesday, Scruggs said they brought sandwiches out to the protesters and told them the closure was only temporary to no avail.