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The goal is to bring support directly to communities to ultimately give them a hand out of poverty by increasing food accessibility

The Guelph Food Bank is making some major changes to increase food accessibility in high need neighbourhoods.

Starting early next year, the Guelph Food Bank will be testing a new pilot project which will bring food support directly to communities in need rather than having residents all over the city travel to one location.

“The City of Guelph has been growing for years, and our population is much larger than it was when we started. Geographically it has also spread. And so while we’re located in the centre of the city, we have people walking upwards of two hours each way just to get to our facility to get the food that they need for the month,” said food bank administrator Pauline Cripps.

“This can be seen as a huge barrier to service when people don’t have cars or reliable access to transportation for people to be able to get the food home that they need.”

Cripps said the organization has been noticing that many clients access groups which are closer to their neighbourhoods but offer less support. 

“By moving to this model, we hope to see more reliable and regular and streamlined support available through neighbourhood groups that would kind of eliminate the need for duplicated servicing throughout different agencies,” said Cripps, adding that the goal is to make sure people who need support are able to access everything they need in one group rather than several different ones. 

The three locations will be Grange Hill East Neighbourhood Group, Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group and West Willow Village. 

Through the new model, the food bank will share its inventory list with pilot locations so they can order items on a ‘just in time’ basis. This would help agencies operating in smaller venues provide services without residents or the agencies having to go to the Guelph Food Bank directly. This stock list includes non-perishable food items and staples such as meat, dairy, eggs, breads, fruits, vegetables, baby products, special dietary foods, personal products, and cleaning products.

While the need for food brings people to the organization, Cripps said support that agencies are able to offer can give people a hand out of poverty.

Cripps said the Guelph Food Bank will handle the logistics, the procurement and the distribution of food support to the community and the community groups coming on board 

Cripps said Our Food Future initiated the initial conversation about this project and many neighbourhood groups communicated with each other last summer to discuss solutions on how to eradicate hunger and food insecurity. 

“Our pitch was basically this hub and spoke model,” said Cripps. 

She said the traditional Guelph Food Bank will also continue to function as is in addition to the pilot project which will run for six months. 

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