Editorial: Ways to help, using what we have

Food banks across the province, including rural food banks in Eastern Ontario are doing what they can to think outside the box to address hunger in these times of drastically increasing food insecurity.

Food Banks United is the group of Eastern Ontario Food Banks working together to address not only food needs but to advocate for those facing the challenges of ever increasing and almost inescapable poverty. Food costs, rental costs and other inflationary factors continue to add to an already heavy burden which is especially difficult for those in lower paying and less stable employment situations, and on social assistance. Hearing about all the different initiatives area food banks have taken on to help those in need is inspirational and gets The Leader thinking.

Rural homelessness is often largely invisible because it can involve people staying on couches, living in trailers, in bushes, in shacks and in cars. Perhaps there is more that can be done to get people in already difficult situations the nourishment they need.

Locally, Community Food Share provides anyone who needs food with a week’s supply, once a month. That food supply comes in the form of canned goods, cereal, dried pastas, frozen meat, eggs, milk, cheese, and produce. For someone who is housed, has cooking facilities, and a budget for sufficient utilities, this seems reasonably adequate. But what about those who must get by without that privileged place? Is there a way to better serve others?

Consider someone or some family who are un-housed, living in a car, camping trailer, or worse. Is handing them a package of frozen meat not placing extra stress on them? Does it become a futile pursuit as they lack the resources to cook that meat.

A soup kitchen is the next logical step in an urban situation, but rural living does not make such a facility a feasible option for many reasons including geography, transportation, and population size. Would it not be wonderful to have the option of giving a pound of cooked meat, if that was more useful to them?

The Municipality of South Dundas holds the key to something that could help the local Community Food Share take an important and useful next step toward making available prepared foods. All that is needed is a handful of volunteers willing to cook, and take training in proper food handling – a commercial kitchen already exists.

Housed in the South Dundas Justice Building in Morrisburg is the former Meals on Wheels kitchen which has sat unused since 2017. That kitchen – which was used for decades to prepare tens of thousands of meals for seniors in the Morrisburg community – is an ideal space for basic food preparation.

As more people than ever are finding it necessary to turn to the food bank to cope with ever-increasing food insecurity issues, perhaps this is the right time to re-open those doors.

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