Prince Edward County’s first ‘Food Depot’ opened Friday

TOGETHER BUT APART (left to right) Braydon Scully manager of the new Food Depot, Tony Walton project manager of the Food Depot and The County Foundation’s communications lead, and Elis Ziegler chair of the Picton Town Hall Board of Management stood with masks on and a good social distance apart as they distributed food on Friday from 12-3 p.m. at the new Food Depot in the old firehall at the Picton Town Hall. Food will be distributed every Friday for those in need. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

 

DESIRÉE DECOSTE

STAFF WRITER

Prince Edward County’s first Food Depot opened Friday in the former fire hall portion of the Picton Town Hall thanks to an $80,000 grant from Community Food Centres of Canada with contributions from The County Foundation and the County of Prince Edward.

The federal government announced on April 3, an investment of $100 million to meet pressing food needs of Canadians facing difficult times as a result of the novel COVID-19 pandemic.

The $100 million will be used to provide funding to organizations such as Food Banks of Canada, the Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Breakfast Club of Canada and Community Food Centres of Canada.

One organization that gets money distributed to them from another organization is the Good Food Organization, which PEC’s Food-to-Share joined in 2019.

Glen Wallis, founder of Food to Share and also part of the Food Collective (FC) tasked with addressing food insecurity in PEC with a long-term goal of establishing a community food centre, submitted an application for fund and was awarded the $80,000 grant last Thursday.

“The grant process was incredibly fast,” expressed Wallis. “It was about a week and a half process because the government is trying to get money out to food banks and community food centres and salvation army as quickly as possible so we had  five days to apply and then we only had to wait another five days and we heard we got the funds so it’s totally crazy.”

The Food Depot will be open every Friday to distribute food from 12-3 p.m. 

“It’s open every Friday from 12-3 p.m. at this point,” stated Wallis. “At this point we’re trying to encourage people to come out once a month so don’t come every Friday, our resources are limited and we anticipate the problem to be lasting for quite a while.”

The FC, who’s using the Sophiasburgh Food Hub at Sophiasburgh Central School for storage, is buying the food in bulk directly from wholesalers. Once at SFH, volunteers will break down the bulk packaging to make up the items in each food box, then those boxes are brought to the firehall for pick-up. Fresh produce will be taken directly to Picton Town Hall for distribution. 

The majority of the grant money will be used for the grocery cards as food retailers No Frills (Loblaws) and Metro provided a 20 per cent discount on the cost of the cards. 

The FC is working closely with the local foodbanks to ensure they’re not left wanting when it comes to donations.

On Friday the Food Depot provided food  to 30 people and they anticipate a much larger demand in the coming weeks. 

“I think at this point we are thinking around 600 people in the course of a month,” Wallis said. “And that’s on top of the people who already use the two food banks, but we’ll wait and see. There was very minimal advertising last week so now that there will be more coverage in the papers and radio, we’re assuming a lot of people are going to hear about it and those that need will come out and use it.”

Wallis also said the Food Depot is set up for people who are not food bank members and expects the food banks will see an increase in there number of clients they serve.

Wallis expressed his appreciation for the Picton Town Hall Board of Management and all the members of the Food Collective for working together to make this a reality.

“The Picton Town Hall Board of Management that now runs the Picton Town Hall are really and incredible helping,” said Wallis. “Elis Ziegler is the Chair of the management board and she’s been really instrumental with getting everything going so it’s been great.”

If you are interested in going to the Food Depot they ask to please call the help line ahead of time so they know how much food to get dropped off. 

The help line number is 833-676-2148.