Regional AIDS committee plans emergency food pantry for food insecure clients
In an effort to support customers struggling with food insecurity, the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Area (ACCKWA) wants to create a new emergency food pantry.
The nonprofit organization is currently raising $5,000 to purchase a fridge and freezer for the program. Greg Mann, support services coordinator at ACCKWA, said the organization has been providing food support to its clients for 20 years in the form of baskets.
This emergency food pantry will be set up like a small marketplace so people “make choices for themselves and we don’t decide what’s good for them,” Mann said.
Mann said they hope the pantry fills a need, as inflation and rising food prices have made it even harder for people to access fresh food.
“The one thing that doesn’t increase with the cost of everything else is [Ontario Disability Support Program] and [Ontario Works]so we’re trying to fill the void so that people don’t have to decide whether or not they should take medicine, pay rent, or have food in their stomachs,” he said.
one-stop shop for customers
The food pantry will be supported with help from the Waterloo Region Food Bank, which has also seen an increase in the number of people needing support, interim CEO Kim Wilhelm said.
“What we’re seeing over the past two months is a very steady increase of about 5% every month in those who have access to emergency food assistance here in Waterloo Region,” Wilhelm said.
Nearly 35,000 people in the region have needed emergency food assistance over the past year, 35% of whom were under 18 years old.
Wilhelm said there are many reasons a person may need to access the food bank, such as sudden job loss, illness in the family, or extra charges at the gas pump and car. ‘grocery.
ACCKWA chief executive Ruth Cameron said many clients living with HIV need nutrient-dense foods like whole vegetables and fruits to stay healthy. She hopes to open the pantry soon to meet the growing need and make it as accessible as possible.
“Transportation is expensive,” Cameron said, adding that if people were already coming to the office for programming, then they could talk to staff about accessing the emergency pantry at the same time.
“So a one-stop shop is convenient, it’s accessible and sometimes makes things more affordable too.”