A community success story

Volunteers holding fruit and vegetables in a warehouse
Volunteers Kristine Erdman, France Spence and Anne Newell at Kingston’s Food Redistribution Warehouse

This week I want to tell you about a community success story.

For the past few days, I’ve been working at an amazing facility here in Kingston called the Community Food Redistribution Warehouse. The warehouse officially opened its doors in March and has quickly become a critical hub for collecting and redistributing food to those in need in our community.

I was at the warehouse all day on Wednesday. It was a constant hub of activity with trucks delivering entire skids of oranges, fresh berries, bread and other perishable supplies. I watched a truckload of milk being wheeled into their massive industrial freezers, ready to go to places like the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston and other agencies serving meals in the city. On Tuesday nights, they have a “bread group” that collects all the leftover bread from Cobb’s Bread and brings it to the warehouse.

The warehouse was the brainchild of a dedicated group of partners in Kingston which included the City of Kingston, United Way, Kingston Community Health Centres and Lionhearts who recognized the growing risk to food insecurity during the global pandemic.

Warehouse
Kingston’s Community Food Redistribution Warehouse. The large white structure on the left with the silver doors is one of their massive freezers.

I talked to Shawn Seargeant, Manager, Operations at Lionhearts when I was there. Lionhearts was founded in Kingston in 2014 by a group of community-minded individuals who wanted to help marginalized people in our community. They started serving 50 meals a day which quickly multiplied to 150 meals a day, then 400 meals a day at four different locations during the pandemic.

Shawn said the warehouse has been a godsend. They now have the facilities to take in excess food from restaurants and suppliers across the city, store it properly and redistribute it to agencies and programs in our community.

I asked Shawn and a few other people working there if other cities or centres had a warehouse like this. Guelph, with its large agricultural base has something similar, but for the most part Kingston is one of the few cities on the leading edge of solving the problem of food insecurity and providing universal access to food.

Before I left on Friday, I wandered into another section of the 11,000 square foot warehouse and found my friend France sorting vegetables and fruit with two other dedicated volunteers. France told me she loves working at the warehouse a few hours, three times a week—the volunteers there are a big family. I thanked them for making a difference in our community.

This week’s #HappyAct is to learn more about food insecurity in your community and help be a part of the solution. Here are a few ideas:

  • Grow your own fruit and vegetables in patio containers—donate extra produce to a neighbour, colleague or local charity.
  • Make a food donation to your local food bank. Summer is typically a time when the shelves start to empty out.
  • Build a food lending library in your neighbourhood. Stock it with extra fresh produce, or dried goods, free for the taking.
  • Roll up your sleeves and spend an hour or two working at your local community garden. Most neighbourhood cities have community gardens now that grow and supply fruit and vegetables to local food banks.
  • Support your local farmer’s markets—buy and shop local.
  • Be grateful every day for the food on your table and reduce food waste in your household.

If you’d like to learn more about the incredible work Lionhearts is doing, watch this video…

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