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The West Nipissing Food Bank suffered a hard loss on August 24 with the passing of longtime president Claudette LeRoy, but her important work will continue as her daughter and other volunteers take over to ensure no one in WN has to go hungry.

Chantal LeRoy has taken the helm along with board members, and says she’s in fact been running things for some time as her mother had fallen ill. Like Claudette before her, she is even taking emergency calls on her own phone to assist the needy – something her mother did for decades.

“[Community members] can call my number (705-471-9862) for emergencies. I will be meeting with board members in the near future to see what our future is, but for now I’m still taking care of the food bank. We want everyone to know that it’s still business as usual! My mom was president for at least 20 years. As I watched her over the years and helped when I could, I knew exactly how she ran the Food Bank, including emergencies, so when she took sick in July, I decided to step in while she was recovering,” says Chantal.

The organization also got a boost in Claudette’s memory, as family asked for donations to the Food Bank as expressions of sympathy. Those expressions poured in when local radio station The Moose FM hosted an on air fundraiser on August 24, receiving over $7,000 in donations in that single day.

Of course, the organization needs helping hands as well as dollars and food. “The volunteers have been terrific in organizing the Food Bank days, and have also contributed behind the scenes in collecting weekly food donations from local businesses and restocking the shelves... For the time being, I will certainly stay involved as much as I can. [My mother] would not have wanted the Food Bank to close in her absence. I don’t foresee any huge changes... we have many dedicated volunteers who are just as passionate as Claudette was about the wonderful service that the Food Bank provides and that no one should have to go to bed hungry. We always welcome anyone interested in volunteering for such a worthy cause,” invites Chantal.

The West Nipissing Food Bank, in the basement of the former Resurrection church on the corner of Third and Nipissing Streets, is open on the third Wednesday of every month. The phone number is 705-753-0314, and anyone in need is encouraged to call for more information.

Another service is being launched next week to help fight hunger: the West Nipissing Community Kitchen. The kitchen will be officially opening on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at the Marcel Noël Hall at the Sturgeon Falls Complex. The kitchen will then be open every Tuesday and Thursday, from 11:30am to 1pm and is free to anyone in need of a meal.

“Business as usual” at WN Food Bank

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