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HomeNews"Free Little Food Pantry" Pilot Program Could Be Coming To Kirkfield Library

“Free Little Food Pantry” Pilot Program Could Be Coming To Kirkfield Library

KAWARTHA LAKES – To fight local hunger, a free little food pantry pilot project could soon be available at the Kirkfield Library.

At a recent council meeting, Maggie Upton and Marina Hodson requested council’s approval to feed the need in Kirkfield with a free little food pantry outside of the local library.

According to Hodson, Executive Director of the Kawartha North Family Health Team for Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon and the Co-chair for City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County Poverty Reduction Round Table, there is an increasing need to provide food for seniors, families and children in rural areas.

“There’s an increasingly urgent need to provide food for seniors, adults and children living rurally but specifically, in this area (Kirkfield) which is challenged by its mobility and transportation barriers,” she said.

The free little pantry would be a weatherproof cupboard open to donors and recipients. Hodson noted that this has been successfully done across the U.S and Canada, feeding many people in need.

According to Upton, a life-time resident of Kawartha Lakes, an executive member of the Woodville Eldon Food Bank, early childhood educator and visiting community nurse, many locals are going hungry as they face various barriers including fear of asking for help.

“In my roles in the Woodville Eldon Food Bank and as a visiting nurse, I see first-hand this alarming, increasing need amongst a somewhat surprising demographic,” she said. “It’s the real people and their stories that motivate us to pursue this initiative, I have seen seniors without anything in their fridge to make a meal let alone a nutritious one, some families don’t have means to pay for gas to reach a food bank, some of the most heart wrenching stories are those of children, children who get excited over a bag of milk or a bunch of bananas.”

Upton noted that 54 per cent of the client base at the food bank is families, often with one adult working, and 46 per cent are one to two person households. In 2020 the Kirkfield food bank served 253 households, equalling 468 adults, 404 children. The Woodville Eldon Food Bank is in Woodville, but over one third of its clients are from Kirkfield, she said.

“We are hoping to enhance the food bank,” she said. “If you have ever had to make the choice between paying rent or hydro or buying groceries to feed your child then you can understand why I am so passionate about feeding those who need it most.”

Upton noted that locals face various barriers when seeking help such as transportation, financial hardship, Covid 19 restrictions, fear and a society that perpetuates shaming.

“This culturally encouraged stigma brings a lack of dignity perceived by many especially those who were raised in an environment of self-sufficiency such as our seniors have been,” she said. “These elders find it so difficult to ask for help when it comes to basic needs.”

The free little pantry will encourage those in need to utilize the pantry when it is convenient to them without perceived threats associated with the use of other social services, added Upton.

“We need to focus on the fact that your neighbours are going hungry and there are practical solutions to this problem,” she said. “We have a generous community, people are seeking to participate on positive social change in their own communities and this is a perfect opportunity to do just that.”

Mayor Andy Letham and Councillors applauded the initiative, it has been referred to staff and will return on the June 15 meeting and will likely move forward.

“This free little food pantry pilot is a step in the right direction, providing privacy and flexibility for our patrons, this will be accessible to all and maintain a level of dignity and its free,” added Upton.

 

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Jennifer Walker
Jennifer decided to study journalism after having a life long passion for writing. She began her career as a reporter for the Uxbridge Times Journal and moved on to freelance work for various publications after her and her husband welcomed their daughters. She has been published in various Durham Region newspapers, the Durham Parent Magazine as well as Equine Wellness. Jennifer continues to follow her dreams as a wife, mother and journalist and is so excited to join the team at Kawartha411.

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