KAWARTHA LAKES – In hopes of starting a trend of love, hope and helping those in need, a free food bank is now open in Fenelon Falls.
Ruth-Anne and Andrew Atkinson-Clements want to make a difference while inspiring others to do the same. So, when the pandemic began they opened a food table in front of their house, hoping to provide simple necessity’s to those in need while taking donations from those who wanted to contribute.
But as the weather heated up, the family of seven decided to take a break while they established a better set up for a covered food bank, available daily to anyone and everyone.
“It was on our hearts to restart it,” said Ruth-Anne. “We love it, it’s fun, our hope is to inspire others to create these independent food banks. We want people to take what they need and not feel judged for needing help or a few items that help make life easier. You never know in life when you might need help or be able to help someone else.”
Ruth-Anne works as a local palliative care nurse and noted that her career has also inspired her to help others beyond the walls of the hospital. Their free food bank often sees elderly visitors, she said.
“I do work with a lot of elderly and they truly are the forgotten gems of society,” she said. “We have a strong Christian faith and we really believe there is God’s work to be done on earth and to love one another, this is our way of doing that.”
According to Andrew, the community support has been incredible.
“This isn’t just an Andrew and Ruth-Anne thing, this is a community thing,” he said. “We have had 300 dollars’ worth of grocery’s left on our porch, it’s not just us, it is a community thing.”
Since their efforts began when the pandemic touched down, the couple estimates that eight to 10 thousand dollars’ worth of donations has been given.
“Everyone can change their corner of the world,” said Ruth-Anne.
The family resides in the heart of Fenelon Falls which is accessible and in walking distance to many individuals. Ruth-Anne noted that the need is vast, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic. The local Salvation Army has also been shut down for two months due to renovations, intensifying the need even more.
“The one thing I love about our food bank, if you need it, take it, if you can leave it, leave it, there are no strings attached, take what you need,” said Andrew. “We have five kids, they’re all grown now, but our hope is that this inspires a lot of people to do this, the need isn’t just at 115 Colborne Street, the need is everywhere.”
Cash donations are most welcomed as the family can replenish the items that seem to be needed the most, but any donations are appreciated. According to Ruth-Anne, laundry and dish soap, hygiene products, cleaning products, soaps, shampoos, toothbrushes, juice and cereal are the most common items that are taken from their free food bank.
Depending on weather, the food bank is open from 8AM to 7PM every day, located at 115 Colborne Street, Fenelon Falls. A jar for cash donations is available and donations can be dropped off at any time.
“The need is everywhere, if there was one in every little spot in Kawartha Lakes that would be awesome,” said Andrew. “There are so many little communities in Kawartha Lakes, if it could happen in all of these little communities that would be fantastic. The truth is, if it helps just one person, is it worth it, absolutely!”