Heather Kirby, executive director of Kawartha Lakes Food Source, is clearly grinning behind her mask when she describes the new home for the organization. What’s her favourite part about the new location?
“All of it.”
The new location at 164 Needham St. in Lindsay is big, bright, and fully accessible. It has a walk-in cool room and a freezer built with grant money from Food Banks Canada, and plenty of room for storage and sorting.
“Space was not our main concern,” says Kirby. After all, the goal of a food distribution organization is to move food out to hungry families and individuals.
“Food should be stored in the cupboards of the people who need it,” says Jessica Topfer, the food source’s administration and programs manager. She describes the new location as “cleaner and brighter” than its previous homes.
“We’ll work anywhere, honestly, but it’s so dignifying for staff and volunteers to come in here,” she adds, noting that the location’s accessibility also makes it easier for those who want to help out or just visit.
Knowing the operation would have to move eventually, the Food Source’s staff and board spent the past few years planning for a relocation.
“We’ve been fiscally responsible to get to the point where this is possible,” Kirby says, “and now we’re in a more financially stable position.”
Kawartha Lakes Food Source is almost 19 years old. It was started when a group of people from Rotary saw the need for a central organization to serve a patchwork system of food banks that had sprung up at churches and social agencies to serve people in need.
Since then it has evolved to become a hub that collects food and distributes it to its member agencies, organizes a community garden to grow produce, and provides milk, fresh fruit and other nutritious food to school breakfast programs.
“In the last two years the Food Source has started to push toward some more non-traditional programs,” Topfer says.
In 2019, the organization started the Lindsay Community Food Market at Calvary Pentecostal Church. A departure from the common style of food bank, the market offers clients the ability to drop in any time and feel more like they’re shopping at a store than receiving a handout.
That’s typical of the new outlook at the Food Source, Topfer says.
“We’re more client-focused and more community-oriented.”