DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: Kawartha Lakes Food Source is moving their operations to a new site, on Friday, July 10th. The local food organization recently announced they are moving, to 164 Needham Street, Lindsay. “It continues to be in a central location, within the City of Kawartha Lakes, to be accessible for our member agencies, volunteers, and donors. More importantly, it is dry, clean, bright, maintained, and has more space for our current operations,” a Kawartha Lakes Food Source press release read. “While having a larger space will be appreciated, it is not our priority. Our distribution centre operations places precedence on receiving food, sorting it and then distributing it to our member food banks as quickly as possible. KLFS is not a food storage facility, food should be stored in the cupboards of families throughout our community. In our new space, our distribution centre operations will continue to remain as the backbone of our organization, as they have historically been. However, we will also continue to push forward with our larger vision of building food security in our community, by means of new and innovative programs and opportunities.” The organization stated their decision to move was “based on sound planning, and well-founded facts of the ongoing need for our supports” and “the KLFS Board of Directors decided the time had come to find another facility, one that would meet current needs, and would allow for safe storage and efficient distribution of food to meet the future needs of the community.” Kawartha Lakes Food Source started operating in 2003. They first started working in a space shared with the Boys and Girls Club of Kawartha Lakes and then moved, to 41 George Street West, Lindsay, in 2012. Kawartha Lakes Food Source describes themselves as a “non-profit food distribution agency” with 10 member food banks across the City of Kawartha Lakes. The organization is concerned about the future of their operations. “In 2019, their 10 member food banks were accessed a total of 12,141 times. This number was up significantly from 2018, in which their 10 member food banks were accessed only 8,777 times. At the same time, their inventory of non-perishable food had been steadily decreasing since 2016. Between 2016 and 2019, they saw a 48 percent decrease in donations. This means, prior to COVID-19, they were feeding more people than ever, with less food,” a press release from the local Food Source explained. “Then, in March of this year, food banks, in the region and across Canada, saw an unprecedented spike in the number of individuals needing support. After the government of Ontario declared a state of emergency, KLFS’ 10 member food banks saw a 44 percent increase to usage, in less than a month. This 44 percent increase approximately equals 500 additional individuals.” Kawartha Lakes Food Source explained, local food banks have started to see a drop in the number of people using their services recently, due to the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). “In the same way social distancing has “flattened the curve” for COVID-19, CERB has “flattened the curve” of food bank usage. CERB has provided enough support, to those who have lost wages due to the pandemic, to mitigate the strain on food banks across the country.” But they are concerned about what will happen when CERB expires. “With CERB set to expire mid July, there are some very serious concerns among food banks, including those in our region, that demand will once again quickly overwhelm the food bank system, unless the support is extended,” the press release stated. Heather Kirby, Kawartha Lakes Food Source’s Executive Director further explained this concern. “We know that many people who were laid off, due to the pandemic, will not be able to reintegrate into the workforce right away, as the economy slowly rebuilds,” she said, in a statement. “Even those returning to work will likely face significantly decreased hours. These unemployed or underemployed people will have no choice but to turn to food banks for support, once their savings run out or credits are maxed out. Our member food banks and food banks across the country, are already stretched thin. Another large wave of increase to food bank use would be incredibly difficult to manage. We stand with Food Banks Canada in urging the Canadian government to extend the CERB, as long as necessary, to support those affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic”, she continued.