MORRISBURG – After a tour of Community Food Share’s Morrisburg facility where they learned all about how the local food bank works, South Dundas council decided to forgive the remainder of that organization’s loan.
South Dundas held a five year loan for the renovation costs associated with the food bank’s relocation to its present site below the Morrisburg arena. Every year since the move CFS has made an annual loan re-payment of about $9,000.
This year’s loan payment is the final payment on the project and Community Food Share chair Jim Wilson asked council to consider forgiving that payment or some portion of it.
CFS serves about 1,000 registered clients in its catchment area which includes South Dundas, North Dundas and a small area near Finch and Crysler.
Wilson explained that because of the new healthy choices model that the organization has moved to over the last couple of years the CFS is spending more money on food.
In order to make the last loan payment CFS would have to dip into the organization’s reserves.
He said that any forgiveness amount that the municipality could offer, would help CFS serve the people they care for.
“Forgiving that last loan payment would be a very positive contribution to our activity,” he said. “We are working hard to make our organization better and better by making more efficient use of the funds that we do receive, offering a more dignified allocation of resources to the community.”
During the tour of the CFS Morrisburg site tour Amy Saunders, who has been with CFS for about six years in the role of food and client care coordinator, told council about all of the positive changes that have taken place over the years.
This includes moving away from the food hamper option to a client choice model and most recently offering healthier choices such as dairy, fresh fruit, and moving away from purchasing canned vegetables to frozen vegetables.
CFS purchases upwards of $80,000 worth of food annually and those purchases are all made in local stores.
Undergoing the name change from Food Bank to Community Food Share was about helping to remove the stigma.
On top of that the operational changes are about moving towards a model of dignity and respect for people who find themselves in circumstances where they need a bit of help.
“No one that comes through that door needing food wants to be here,” Saunders told council before taking them through the facility.
In response to Wilson’s request to council, South Dundas deputy mayor Kirsten Gardner said: “I really like the dignified empowerment path that you are going down where folks get more choice. There’s very few people in this world that haven’t struggled at some point. I’m very impressed and would like to see us support this request.”
“You do a fantastic job for the people that do need help sometime in life,” commented South Dundas councillor Donald Lewis.
“Your group has come a long way,” said South Dundas councillor Archie Mellan, who added that he was in favour of forgiving half of the loan and deferring the other half over a couple of years. “But I’m easy,” he said opting to go along with the rest of council and forgive the full amount of the final payment.
South Dundas councillor Lloyd Wells was very impressed with the organization and what he saw during the tour of the facility and said because of that he would be willing to grant the request to forgive the final payment. “Because I think it would be a big help,” he said.
South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds said that even though he was part of the council that initiated that loan he agreed with forgiving the final payment.