Port Alberni’s first community food pantry has been installed on Tebo Avenue at the end of a sidewalk in front of Jericho Road church.
Salvation Army food security officer Colin Minions said the idea came from a news item he saw from Victoria. A food pantry was installed in the community of Fairfield with a goal of making food easily accessible for anyone who might need it. Within the week, Port Alberni’s first food pantry was built.
It operates the same way as the free little libraries around town: take an item or leave an item.
Jericho Road church was chosen as a location because the church has been supportive of everything the Salvation Army has done to feed people throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers also needed approval from a private property owner to install the pantry, explained John Edmondson from the Bread of Life, which works in concert with Salvation Army on food security.
“The idea is to hit other neighbourhoods further away from the food bank for people who need a little help,” he said. The food bank is located at the Salvation Army’s building on Argyle and Fourth Avenue, in Port Alberni’s Uptown.
The idea behind the pantry is to help someone get through the week, and not to feed a family for a week. “It’s designed to augment,” Edmondson said.
“If it’s something that can help you get through the week, that’s what it is there for. It’s part of our job of feeding people; it’s a different way of doing it.”
Volunteers will monitor the pantry to make sure it stays stocked. The hope is neighbourhoods that would like their own pantry will take care of their own as a collective.
The pantry installed at Jericho Road church is a prototype, and was to be modified this week to make it bear- and raccoon-proof. A sliding door up top protects non-perishable food items from the weather and cupboard doors on the bottom keep personal hygiene items safe and dry.
The Salvation Army is looking for more locations to place community food pantries. Anyone wishing a pantry in their neighbourhood can contact Colin Minions at 250-723-6913 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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