Small crowd of people wearing masks stand in front of brick building with coffee sign on wall

The Feed the Need fundraiser was held on Nov. 1, and visitors were invited to explore The Grind Pembroke’s new location and purchase lunch, with funds going to the organization’s operations. A group of volunteers stands before the entryway. Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post.

Feed the Need fundraiser held at The Grind Pembroke

By Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday November 18, 2021

It can be difficult to spot hunger in the area, but it is there, and people are suffering.

The Grind Pembroke is one of the few organizations with feet on the ground, confronting the problem directly by providing meals to those in need. They also provide a warm, non-judgmental place to access resources, information on programs or just a friendly ear.

But feeding up to 160 people four times a week is a massive enterprise, and The Grind has to rely on fundraisers and donations to make ends meet.

The “Feed the Need” fundraiser was held on Nov. 1 and community members were invited to explore The Grind’s new facilities and see what they have to offer.

“Our goal really is just to get the word out there so people know we are here and what we do and how much it is needed in the area,” said The Grind’s Administrative Assistant Bonnie Harnett.

The Grind moved into the old Firehall in Pembroke, located on Victoria Street. In just the past seven months, volunteers served 11,000 lunches.

“It has been a difficult time for our vulnerable community so we have become the place they can come to get what they need,” said Harnett.

It is also home to a pay-as-you-wish coffee house and offers warm food, Sunday ministry, emergency food and hygiene kits, information services and more.

“We don’t just serve the homeless or vulnerable community,” said Harnett. “We have seniors that are shut-ins and don’t get out often. We have people with Community Living. They come and have coffee with us.”

At the moment, regulations state that only 33 people are allowed in the building. However, people can still come and get warm food or access information services or reach out to their mental health crisis team. There is also a mental health crisis team on the grounds Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. so that any client in immediate need can get help.

Once restrictions are lifted and Phase 2 of renovations are complete, the new location will be able to welcome even more people.

It is a beautiful building with a cute coffee shop, a walk-in freezer, a large food pantry and a professional kitchen.

But the upgraded building isn’t what makes The Grind so special. It is the people themselves.

“My favourite part of this whole building is the clients that we help on a daily basis,” Harnett admitted.

When The Grind’s community kitchen is closed, people can get a hot lunch at St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Columbkille’s Cathedral, located at 188 Renfrew St. in Pembroke.