Petawawa Pantry food bank to open this Fall

Community News

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Petawawa Pantry food bank is slated to be up and running by late October.

Town Council gave their support to the idea after hearing from a group of dedicated and caring individuals who have worked for the past six months to lay down the necessary groundwork. This centrally located food bank will allow local families and individuals without reliable transportation to meet their needs with ease. “The whole goal is to see a food bank established here,” said Vice President of the Petawawa Pantry Reverend Eric Strachan.

The founding committee believes “that it is incumbent upon a caring community to provide for those in our constituency, men, women and children, who regularly go without basic sustenance.”

Most members on the committee are relatively new to the operation of a food bank, but have travelled to various food banks to feed the hungry on the front lines. When the idea to create the Petawawa Pantry was born and the initial steps were taken to bring this service closer to home, they were wholly on board. They have already created a Board of Directors, formed a constitution, and secured the consul of Peter Tilley, Executive Director of The Ottawa Mission. The group has also made an application to the government for charitable status, so they may provide donors with receipts.

According to Rev Strachan, there is the possibility that the food bank will be located at the old Sears building warehouse, behind the present day Subway Restaurant. He believes this would be an ideal location since it is right in the centre of town on Petawawa Boulevard.

Tilley, who also spoke at the July 18 council meeting, was surprised to see that there were no food bank in town as most municipalities across Canada have one.

He noted he is pleased to see the addition of a new food bank, as it shows that the community is responsive to the need. “I think it is a great thing,” said Tilley. “It is a badge of honour for me.”

The Petawawa Pantry would provide a three-to four-day supply of food once a month. A typical offering would include milk, bread, canned goods and hopefully some fresh produce. This is just enough to sustain a family, which is the goal of the food bank, confirmed Tilley. Great efforts will be taken to ensure that those who need food will receive it.

“Probably, I would say over 60 per cent (of people) would have either needed a food bank or would have went to a food bank of some sort (during their lifetime),” said Laurie Alton, President of the Petawawa Pantry and Service Coordinator and Counsellor of the Renfrew County Community Withdrawal Management Services.

There is the St. Joseph’s Food Bank in Pembroke, but some people in town are unable to travel the distance. With a food distribution centre located in town, people in need will have much easier access to this resource. “The need is here and cannot be any longer ignored,” said Alton. “If you look at the Food Report, moving forward it is going to get a little bit worse. The forecast is not good. So to have this resource available in our community, it will build a stronger community.”

The group is currently building partnerships with other organizations and securing fundraising opportunities. This is necessary as, with most food banks, it will not be funded by the government. Yet based on positive comments and preliminary forecasts, Rev Strachan is confident that the support is there.

“There are food banks in communities smaller than Petawawa,” he said. “... It takes that initial leap of faith.
For more information on the Petawawa Pantry, to donate or to volunteer, please contact Rev Strachan before 8 p.m. at 613-687-6219.