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REPORTING · 30th November 2012
Walter McFarlane
Denise O’Neill and Elizabeth MacDonald came before Council on Monday, November 26th to present on the Food Share Program and Victim Services. O’Neill expressed they are working at both the grass roots level and sometimes, they throw themselves into a project without realizing they need the funds.

She went through the Victim Services before moving on to the Food Share Program.

“I have to tell you folks what a wonderful job Elizabeth MacDonald has done with this program over a year. She had no idea what we were getting into either,” said O’Neill. “Elizabeth has given her heart and soul for one year at, sometimes a great personal cost to her as well.”

The goal of the Food Share program is to redirect soon to expire food which would be disposed of from a grocery store and distribute it to people who need food. The cost of the food is the cost of the rent money for their office in Mountain View Square. The Food Share has received reduced rent and is operated through volunteers.

“The challenge to this is we have to pick up food seven days a week and we have to move it seven days a week. When you don’t have any funds, it can’t just be a volunteer type of thing. All of the food gets inventoried and put through Community Services as a charitable designation,” said O’Neill.

They thanked Kevin Barry for picking up the food and delivering it to the Elementary Schools. O’Neill asked for $20,000 to cover the rent.

“The Kitimat Food Share is talked about with very high regards and is being used as a model in a lot of other groups across the Province, across the region. We definitely believe the work needs to continue,” said O’Neill.

With the Food Share Office located across from the Job Bank, the development which is going on in Kitimat and the people going in and out of said office, there is quite a lot of cross over.

“Some of them who come in, they leave because they can’t find work yet. The people who can’t find work, thankfully the Food Share program was there. I have many stories of people spending their EI checks to get here and looking for work and not being able to find it right away and having nothing. We’ll give them some food and they’ll find a way to get back where they came from,” said O’Neil.

She shared one story about a man from the Yukon who drove up in August expecting, based on the media attention around Kitimat, to be working the next day. He found out four days after arrival he had to leave because he spent all of his money.

MacDonald stated they do a lot of crisis work at the Food Share. Most of the recipients are families with children. There are quite a few single people who would be classified as homeless. They are supplied with food on a regular basis.

MacDonald told Council she is working with many groups around the community and is focusing on a community garden.

O’Neill told Council they are supported by groups within the community. Churches are presenting cheques and Shoppers Drug Mart has raised $2866 a tree of life for their program.

“Imagine what [Elizabeth MacDonald] can do if she didn’t have to beg for money to pay the rent,” said O’Neill.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know if the Kitimat Food Bank was still in operation. He was told the Food Share works with the Food Bank. The Food Share give the Food Bank fresh fruits and vegetables in exchange for breads.

“There is still a need, believe it or not. I shake my head because I didn’t know what it was like for a lot of families. Rents have tripled in Kitimat,” said MacDonald.

She told Council how one of the Volunteers has had her house sold out from under her twice in the last 6 months. Every time she moves she has to repay all of the hook ups. She does not get the money to do that so it comes out of her food bill.

O’Neill told Council while there is some overlap, some people are holding down minimum wage jobs. She suggested Council watch a commercial where a woman is forced to choose between paying her rent and eating.

O’Neill stated, while she must protect the anonymity of the people who get food from them, some of the people are former Eurocan employees who have not settled after the closure. There are also many seniors coming to the place. Other people just have had a bad month where they need the assistance because of other bills.

“We’re there if you have a crappy month. We want to treat you with dignity and respect because we all have crappy months. Allot of us put things on our credit card, on our Visa. Some people, that’s not an option for them. We through ourselves into this not even knowing for us, at the grass roots level having our eyes opened,” said O’Neill.

They are also using the program to promote literacy through recipes, what people can do at home with the leftovers and ingredients.

Councillor Edwin Empinado stated he was impressed with the program. He has seen the good work which they do, the program gathering work from both the grocery stores in Kitimat and the volunteers are seniors and retired people. He was impressed with the amount of food which goes out.

We heard from Liz MacDonald on Thursday, November 29th that Angie Silvestre's Grade 6 class at Nechako Elementary School held a bake sale and Haunted House to raise money for the Food Share. They presented the organization with a cheque for $360.
be the change
Comment by kory on 5th December 2012
I heard it said, "that if you can't feed 100 people, than just feed one." Well, they have been feeding hundreds of people. For free. Free lunches to kids in schools, free food for family's who would otherwise go hungry, all off of food that would otherwise be left to waste.

If our district cannot afford this for whatever bullshit reason. Maybe they can afford a few hundred square feet where they wouldn't have to pay rent?

Mom, your inspiring on so many levels.