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Paul Healey, owner of the No Frills grocery store in Sturgeon Falls, Carole Renaud, WN Food Bank Vice-President, and Ken Perrin, President of the food bank, are working to reduce food waste and make sure people have access to fresh produce, through the food bank’s new ‘food rescue’ initiative.
by Isabel Mosseler
The West Nipissing Food Bank has decided to get into the ‘food rescue’ business, and their timing couldn’t be better. Last week, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit released a document revealing that 1 in 7 households in the district faces food insecurity. High-risk households include those on low incomes, on social assistance, renters, and especially single parent families. The document said that food banks and soup kitchens provide some relief, but do not address the root causes of food insecurity. Essentially it comes down to the cost of eating well, which is unaffordable to 14% of the population.
Ken Perrin, president of the West Nipissing Food Bank, is launching a food rescue program with his volunteers to help alleviate some of those shortages faced by struggling families – shortages which can lead to a whole host of other problems, from diabetes to anxiety and depression. “I believe food rescue is going to go a long way to address food insecurity [in West Nipisisng]. It has been going on in North Bay for some time,” he notes. He’s been consulting with Dennis Chippa in North Bay, who assists with The Gathering Place, to follow their model and adapt it to West Nipissing.
“The numbers are steadily rising at the West Nipissing Food Bank,” says Perrin. “In January we had 159 emergencies and clients who showed up… and February will probably be 175. We had a dozen new people… We’ve seen more seniors, to be honest.” Perrin has been organizing monthly meetings with other local service organizations in an effort to streamline mutual operations. During the last session, he said the North Bay Salvation Army indicated they also have people from West Nipissing attending their food bank. Perrin invited Dennis Chippa to share his expertise with the local volunteers so the food bank can move forward on a food rescue plan.