Looking to fill the gap between social programs and out-of-town food banks, a group of dedicated community volunteers have teamed up to fight hunger in the Township of Wellesley.
The Wellesley Community Food Cupboard will officially open next month, but first the group behind the pilot program will host open houses on March 28-29 in an effort to raise awareness and fill the shelves at their 146 David St. location in the village.
“In response to a growing community need, a group of individuals representing area churches, businesses and organizations have partnered together to reduce hunger in Wellesley Township and surrounding area,” the group said in a statement. “Providing supplemental food to people struggling with food security in Wellesley Township and surrounding area is the mission of the Wellesley Community Food Cupboard. Really, it’s about neighbours helping neighbours in a welcoming, non-judgmental, respectful and confidential way. The goal is to maximize fairness, choice and service excellence. Participants will have access to non-perishable food to supplement what they may receive from a food bank.”
Christa Gerber, chair of the Wellesley Community Food Cupboard board, described how the project came to be.
“There is a lady named Sue Martin and she is a social worker who works with underfunded families in Wellesley Township and this is something that she has had going for about 12 years now,” Gerber said. “It started in her garage and she always had a dream that it would be bigger and that it could service all people that are underfunded and have food security issues within the Township of Wellesley.”
Most social service agencies target low-income families or seniors, Gerber said. That leaves out singles and other groups who may need support in the event of a sudden financial crisis or a health emergency.
“There are marginal groups that fall in between,” Gerber explained. “And sometimes it’s just a matter of a family having a rough month. Maybe the kids needed emergency dental work or the car broke down and dad got laid off for a couple of weeks and all of a sudden it’s the end of the month and there’s nothing left for groceries. Our hope is to service those people who have kind of fallen in between the crack in Wellesley Township.”
Food banks are an important resource for those struggling to make ends meet, but for many in the township, getting to the closest banks in Elmira and New Hamburg is a challenge, Gerber said.
“If you’re a person who is struggling, it isn’t always as easy to access programs that might be more readily available in the cities,” she said, while noting that the WCFC will carry items not typically found at food banks such as diapers, under garments for adults and laundry detergent.
Spearheaded by Sue Martin and the Wellesley ministerial team, the WCFC will strive to serve anyone and everyone in need across the whole township.
Their David Street facility in Wellesley Village was donated by Menno Homes – two years rent-free – and renovated by local contractors Arnie Bender and Ron Roth.
The community is encouraged to stop by during the open house March 28-29 from 1-3 p.m.
Attendees are asked to bring one grocery item to stock the shelves for opening day, which is planned for mid-April. Some of the most needed items at this point are laundry detergent, meal-replacement drinks, adult undergarments, diapers, flour, cereal, coffee and tea, lunch snacks and Easter treats.