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Councillors support waive of kitchen costs for Food to Share

Food to Share volunteers working in the kitchen at Wellington.

Council showed continued support for food security initiatives approving a request to waive costs this year for use of Picton and Wellington community centre kitchens by the local Food to Share program.

Council turned over a County staff recommendation to deny the request and direct the group to apply to the municipal community grants program for funding. The grants program was allocated an additional $20,000 in 2019 specifically for food security initiatives.

Councillors Jamie Forrester, Bill Roberts, Kate McNaughton and Brad Nieman spoke out to support taking responsibility to assist the County’s most vulnerable, and embrace the organization’s efforts.

Mayor Steve Ferguson also supported Food to Share noting some 15,000 meals have been prepared by passionate, dedicated volunteers with the program, stating programs such as these should know council is supportive.

Councillors Ernie Margetson and John Hirsch suggested the staff recommendation is written to show support support.

Neil Carbone, director of community development, agreed, noting initiatives for ways to demonstrate broader support of food insecurity programs are under way since the request made, and council should take care not to set precedent. He recommended the one-year span to waive fees to allow changes once new information becomes available.

The County Foundation (in partnership with Food to Share, and the County’s Community Development Department) have received a grant through the Rural Ontario Institute to develop plans for addressing local food insecurity including centralized and decentralized models for distribution and consideration of local food bank sustainability.

Glen Wallis, founder of the Food to Share program, first made the request last July to waive rental fees to use the kitchens at the Picton and Wellington arenas. He said the group wished to scale up operations in order to reach more food insecure individuals by adding additional kitchens, meal preparation activities and events.

Staff’s summary noted that a current four-hour booking of the facility by Food to Share often impacts more than a full day at the facility in part due to the pre and post booking requirements – such as materials dropped off prior and storage in the refrigerators and freezers until they are collected to be delivered.

“This has caused logistical challenges for other paid bookings scheduled before and after the Food to Share booking. In some circumstances other paying customers have been turned away and potential revenue for the municipality has been lost. These challenges are more pronounced in the summer at the Picton facility and in the winter at the Wellington facility – particularly on weekends,” the staff report states.

The motion to be brought to the next council meeting also recommends Food to Share and other groups fighting food insecurity to apply for support through the municipal grants program.

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  1. Mark says:

    Good for the stepup Councilors for supporting such an important and needed cause. This economic development regime needs to get over tourism and realize the local needs.

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