The Food Sharing Project and Isthmus are organizations that provide healthy food to kids in school to help them perform better while learning.
“We know that if we provide them with food, they’ll do better at school as they’ll be able to concentrate better,” says Brenda Moore, a retired principal and chair of the Food Sharing Project.
“We found that many kids would get back to school on Monday very hungry because they had not eaten properly on the weekend. So Isthmus fills that gap by providing school kids in need with a bag of healthy food on Fridays,” says Paul Elsley, a retired teacher and chair of the Isthmus program.
“We found that many kids would get back to school on Monday very hungry because they had not eaten properly on the weekend.”
Other organizations like the Salvation Army, Martha’s Table and Lunch by George offer free meals for many people throughout the year. Lionhearts, another organization that now provides free meals, used to be focused on food rescue and redistribution to other groups, but its members started providing meals at the start of the current pandemic as they saw an increase in needs.
“We provide meals at three separate locations in the area, three days a week in Amherstview, six days a week at the Kingston Community Health Centre, and seven days a week at our downtown location at Stages,” says Monika Cook, a longtime volunteer and the community liaison for Lionhearts.
Lionhearts has provided more than 150,000 meals between the start of the pandemic in March until November. They provide meals at three separate locations in Kingston and they have over 160 volunteers working in three shifts a day to make it all happen.
“Volunteers are the backbone of what we are able to do,” says Dan Irwin, the executive director of the Partners in Mission Foodbank in Kingston.
Volunteers are depended on for many tasks, from weeding and harvesting the gardens, collecting and packing food items, preparing meals and serving them, and sometimes delivering food packages to homes as well.
Jesse Tieman, the co-host of the morning show Boss Lady and Jesse on Country 93.5 volunteers to pack food boxes at the Kingston Partners in Mission Foodbank. With the onset of the pandemic the food bank lost many of its elderly volunteers so Tieman and his radio co-host decided to help out. “Since we have time we thought we would help out, especially now heading into the holidays. There is a lot of need this year because of Covid,” he says.
“I’m doing this for selfish reasons,” says Peter Merkley, a Rotarian and one of the many volunteers at a community garden. “It gets me out of the house with some fresh air and I even get to visit with like-minded individuals in our community.”
Volunteers do this work for a variety of reasons. For many, they do it initially because it gives them something to do, a purpose. But after helping a few times, they quickly recognize that they get much more out of this than just an outing. They get a real sense of accomplishment, a sense that they have done something selfless to help someone in need.
“I’m doing this for selfish reasons, it gets me out of the house with some fresh air and I even get to visit with like-minded individuals in our community.”
“I have been helping with the Community Harvest Kingston for seven years. I started helping after I took advantage of what it had to offer because I wanted fresh food and I could not afford it at the time,” says Delina Yuill. “I’m involved in housing and food security because I was homeless myself for a few years so I understand that the need is real.”
“I’m involved in housing and food security because I was homeless myself for a few years so I understand that the need is real.”