Program Descriptions

Core Programs

Food Bank

Funded by donations from the Community, the Food Bank provides food packages full of staples and fresh foods.  Access to the food bank is determined through an intake process. The food bank is open Monday through Friday between 9:30am – 11:15am and can be accessed every 21 days.  The following is the list of information required to register for our food bank:

  • proof of income
  • rent/mortgage receipt, and
  • ID for each member in the household

The food bank is run on a grocery store model where clients are given points and spend those points to select the items they need. This “choice” system provides the client with a more dignified selection so they can receive items they want, need and can utilize. This results in less waste. The Point system also helps teach that important skill of budgeting to make their points stretch further.

In an average month, the food bank sees some 2,475 people – 940 of which are children. We have two seasonal Food Drives; Christmas and Thanksgiving along with our annual CANstruction event & Cyclone Aid. Please give when you can – a can or two for the families in need. Agriculture programs help provide fresh essentials such as vegetables, milk, eggs, and meat.

Items most needed:

  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Peanut butter
  • Jam
  • Juice boxes
  • Side dishes
  • Canned fruit
  • Granola bars / kid’s snacks
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Fruit & pudding cups
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Men’s & ladies deodorant

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Soup Kitchen

Dozens of teams, from local churches, service clubs, schools, businesses, and industries come together to prepare and serve meals to those in our community that are in need.  In fact, some soup kitchen teams have been assisting in the program since its very beginning. Individuals utilizing the soup kitchen program have various challenges including financial, mental health and addictions. Clients are able to be fed in our brightly lit and roomy dining hall enjoying “social” nourishment – a hot meal and interaction with others. For many the soup kitchen will provide their only hot meal that day… for too many, their only meal.

The soup kitchen is open 7 days a week and serves a hot meal Monday through Friday from 1:00pm – 2:15pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 4:30pm – 5:30pm.  Holiday hours may vary.

If you or your organization would like to volunteer to provide meal(s), please contact Lynn, our Volunteer Coordinator, at or go to our volunteer page and click on the link to fill out an online volunteer application form.

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Rent & Utility Assistance

If you are in arrears with your rent or utilities and have received an eviction notice or utility disconnection notice -OR- you are moving and require assistance with last month’s rent, we may be able to provide you with some assistance towards the outstanding amount.

We also connect clients with a wide range of community resources. Our Community Outreach Worker can assist by providing referrals to an array of local resources.

Please contact us at 519-344-1746 ext. 313, or click the button below, to complete an intake to determine eligibility.

If you are in receipt of OW or ODSP, please contact your Case Worker for assistance first.

**Please Note that The Inn is unable to assist with medical or dental bills.

The Haven

444 & 442 Kathleen Ave
Sarnia, ON

The Haven provides short-term co-ed shelter for young adults between the ages of 16 to 21. This program is funded by the Ministry of Children & Youth Services in conjunction with the County of Lambton. We can house up to 9 residents in a 30-60 day program. Our goal is to assist our residents in securing a source of income and find a stable living arrangement. The Haven is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and an intake can be done at any time of the day or night. Referrals can be made by other agencies, by phone, or a person coming to the building. Staff of The Haven will assist in advocating for a client and/or referring to other agencies and programs. The Haven consists of two adjoining townhouse units owned by the County of Lambton –

We can accommodate up to 4 female residents and 5 males.  These gender separated units have their own bathrooms, kitchen and common room.  All residents have access to laundry facilities and a resident phone.

The Program Criteria: All residents who enter into The Haven shelter program must satisfy the following admission criteria:

  • willing to participate in application for Ontario Works (Social Assistance) and comply with all O.W. regulations and expectations.
  • must follow house rules and routines
  • residents must be enrolled in either an O.W. work placement, a full-time supervised education program; or secure paid employment.
  • possession or use of drugs/alcohol or any acts of aggressive behavior, will result in immediate discharge.  The program provides a safe and secure living environment at all times.
  • must have the genuine desire to improve his/her current situation.

The Haven and units are drug and alcohol free; there is zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol on the premises.

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The Good Shepherd’s Lodge

950 Confederation Street
Sarnia, ON

Emergency Shelter

The Good Shepherd’s Lodge provides emergency shelter to those experiencing a period of homeless in Lambton County. Emergency Shelter is provided to single men, women, and families. “The Lodge” has 25 emergency shelter beds, and 2 private family rooms. Clients of “The Lodge” are provided with 2 hot meals a day, computer access, free laundry facilities, showers, private secured locker area, a free client phone, and assistance searching for housing.

The Good Shepherd’s Lodge is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and an intake can be done at any time of the day or night. Referrals can be made by other agencies, by phone, or a person coming to the building. Staff of The Good Shepherd’s Lodge will assist in advocating for a client and/or referring to other agencies and programs.

Transitional Housing Program

Transitional Housing units may be available for rent to those in the community who are experiencing a period of transition.  Each unit contains a private bedroom, washroom, shower room, kitchen/dining area and living area. There are 5 housing units designated male or female. Transitional Housing units are fully furnished, phone/cable/internet are the responsibility of the residents. Residents of the transitional housing program have access to laundry facilities.

The Transitional Housing program is designed to assist the “hard to house” be successful in learning skills that will help them secure and maintain permanent housing.  The program is altered to fit each individual’s specific need. Residents and The Transitional Support Worker will set goals and meet regularly to assess the progress and modify if needed. Residents will be required to attend programing aimed at budgeting, cooking, stress management.  Residents of the Transitional Housing Program are responsible for the upkeep of the Transitional Housing area.

To apply for transitional housing call 519-344-1679, the Program Coordinator, or Transitional Support Worker will be able to assist you.

The Good Shepherd’s Lodge Transitional Housing Program and units are drug and alcohol free; there is zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol on the premises.

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Genesis is The Inn’s free clothing and household items store. The store is open every Tuesday 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM. Clients can access Genesis every three weeks to select items they may need. As a part of The Inn’s holistic approach to helping folks, by providing clothing or small household items at no cost; it enables the client to use their limited financial resources towards their shelter or food. The Genesis program also helps provide items for people getting started into their own housing.  It helps them equip their place with many essentials. The Genesis program relies on the generosity of the community in donating gently used items. While The Inn doesn’t have the capacity to handle and store large furniture items on a regular basis, we may pre-arrange larger items if we have a client in need for specific items.

Items most needed:

  • Clothing
  • Socks
  • New Underwear
  • Hygiene items
  • Deodorant
  • Linens and bedding
  • Blankets
  • Small kitchen appliances
  • Dishes and Cutlery

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Red Path

The Red Path Program is an Indigenous specific model that was first developed by Trent University and delivered within Federal Penitentiaries. It has two components – Addictions Treatment and Living without Violence. The Red Path model blends clinical and cultural approaches addressing emotional and social health, offering techniques to cultivate a healthy mind, body and spirit. It is an Indigenous holistic approach to healing and self-wellness. The core element of the intervention is to skillfully deliver tools in a group setting to provide participants with knowledge and awareness that all events and behaviors are interconnected with the past, present and future. The key concepts, used to facilitate action and change identification, communication, reflection and the experience of emotions. Participants learn emotional awareness and how emotions change through life’s patterns, self-worth and capabilities, communicating ones needs and opinions, how to pursue goals despite setbacks and obstacles, coping with daily stressors and social problem solving strategies. Topics discussed include violence and abuse, blaming, self-esteem, love and respect, community, morals and values, relationships, empathy & trust and more. With tools learned in Red Path participants go below the surface to understand buried emotions, get to the root of their problems and develop a resiliency to any adverse environmental conditions. This reflective resiliency will continue to develop and flourish even after the program is completed.

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Support Programs

Income Tax Clinics

For low-income households, Government Benefits such as the Child Tax Benefit, GST & Ontario Trillium Rebates and the Senior’s Guaranteed Income Supplement along with Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support and Social Housing are the means by which they survive – by which they can strive to meet just basic needs.  Yet, if they don’t file their taxes, the government can’t determine if they are eligible for the benefits which are based on income.  If they don’t file taxes, they are cut off of these benefits.

By coordinating a community tax clinic, The Inn facilitates thousands of people being able to complete their taxes each year to maintain their benefits.  The income from benefits such as these could be the difference of having to use the food bank or not or getting into better housing or staying ahead of their bills!

Last year, we processed 2,920 returns.  For 40% of those who we did taxes for, this is the only service of The Inn they use.  The tax program enables them to be more independent and less reliant on community supports!

Many thanks to Sarnia Lambton United Way for their financial support of this program and to our team of dedicated volunteers and staff who e-file all these returns.

The tax clinic is open by appointments and through mobile clinics in March through to mid-May and by drop off’s at The Inn on John St. all year round.  You will need to provide income slips (T4’s for employment and pension; T5007 for social assistance); rent receipts or rental information if you rent; property taxes if you own your residence; medical and donation receipts.

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Mobile Market

The Mobile Market Garden provides a chance for food bank clients to receive fresh garden produce on a more frequent basis than their regular food bank visit (once every 21 days). The Inn’s truck sets up each week at 14 different locations throughout Sarnia and Lambton County where clients and residents can have access to a variety of fresh produce. The produce is provided from local gardens or through a donation program with local farmers and greenhouse growers.

A 2009 Study by TD Bank, showed that poverty costs each Ontario household an additional 2600 in taxes. It drew a direct link to increased healthcare costs. People living in poverty don’t eat as well – contributing to a lower standard of health. The Mobile Market Garden helps address this issue by providing free, healthy produce on a weekly basis during the growing and harvest seasons. The Typical mobile market will have a variety of up to 12 different vegetables including potatoes, corn, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, carrots and more. Information Sheets provide tips for freezing the vegetables to make them last through the winter!


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Snack Pack

The Snack Pack Program distributes nutritious snacks to youngsters in geared-to-income housing neighbourhoods. The program was launched at one Sarnia location in July 2016 and expanded to a second Sarnia location in August that same year.  This year, the program has expanded to serve three Sarnia locations as well as, Corunna, Thedford, Kettle Point, Watford, and Alvinston.

The snack pack program fills a gap in the summer.  Student nutrition programs do a great job of providing extra nutrition to assist kids with good learning. It provides the nutrition and energy for better school participation and retention. But when schools close for the summer, there is a gap in that nutrition that families are sometimes unable to fill. Kids don’t have the energy to be outside and engage in fun, active play in the summer.  The program delivers fruit, juice boxes, yogurt tubes, cheese sticks, pudding cups, Fruit2go, and more.  The snack packs are designed to provide them with two snacks a day until the next week when they get a new snack pack.

The snack packs are distributed through The Inn’s mobile market program which distributes 6000 pounds of fresh produce to 14 neighbourhoods and communities in Sarnia-Lambton every week from July until mid-November.

Program sponsors including the Healthy Kids Community Challenge Lambton Partners program, Noelle’s Gift, the Sarnia Community Foundation, the Catherine Wilson Foundation and LoveFirst Sarnia have enabled The Inn to expand the program.  Many thanks to our Lead Sponsor – Noelle’s Gift and supporting sponsor – Food Banks Canada for their continued support. 

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Back to School

Over 1,100 kits are provided to prepare kids for their first day back to school. The kits are specific to grades and filled with supplies they need for their school work; including items such as pens, markers, rulers, calculators, math sets, binders, scissors and much more. These items are placed in a new backpack along with a few snacks and drink boxes.

Donations of school supplies can be dropped off at The Inn of The Good Shepherd in July and August.

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Christmas Programs

For our clients, the holidays can bring on added stress. The Inn has many different programs to help combat the stress the holidays bring.  In a way, The Inn is family for many of our clients.


  • Local businesses, families, churches, service clubs and individuals are paired with a family that cannot afford to provide their children with Christmas presents. The children provide a “wish list” for Santa and receive their gifts Christmas morning!

Singles Dinner

  • Our Dining room is host to 2 dinners – served by County of Lambton Shared Services staff and by Trinity Anglican Church. Clients choose which one they would like to attend for a festive night out.

Inn out of The Cold Family Dinner

  • Hosted each year by the Dante Club, it’s a chance for families to enjoy a full turkey meal in a wonderful Christmas setting. Of course Santa is a welcome visitor that evening!

Children’s Christmas Party

  • The Inn hosts a children’s Christmas party each year, roughly 300 children attend. Each child leaves the party receiving a photo with Santa, a book, a stocking, a stuffed animal, a gift, as well as treats!

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Reduced Fare Program

Transportation and accessibility are major challenges to folks living in poverty. The inability to get out and into the community becomes a factor in keeping them in poverty:

  • They can’t get to grocery stores where healthier food is available at better prices so they often end up “grocery shopping” at a local corner store where healthier alternatives aren’t available and food is much more expensive.
  •  They can’t get their children to community activities which help increase their socialization
  • Medical appointments are missed or avoided because of the difficulty and cost of getting there.

In partnership with The City of Sarnia, The Inn offers a reduced fare program where we sell bus passes or tickets at a reduced cost.

These savings, as small as they may seem, makes the difference for many clients getting themselves to school, work, and medical appointments. This program has become a win-win partnership where transit has seen an increase in riders and revenues and clients now have the means of accessing a greater range of services.

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Client BBQ

Many of The Inn’s clients don’t get to experience that wonderful Canadian tradition of a BBQ. Each July The Inn hosts a BBQ for our clients during the regular soup kitchen hours. Clients can enjoy live music, hamburgers, hot dogs, cold beverages, chips as well as prizes!

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Children’s Birthday Club

No child should have to go without a gift on their birthday. Parents can sign up at the food bank or call reception at 519-344-1746 ext. 301 and they can sign up to receive a birthday bag that includes a toy, a game, and a book in a gift bag for their child along with a cake mix and icing. Because every child deserves to feel special on their birthday!

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Winter Coat Night

Each fall, The Inn holds a winter coat night, giving the clients opportunity to receive winter coats, boots, hats and gloves as available. Some 520 individuals will receive winter wear on this night.

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