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Volunteers come together in support of food security initiative: Yorkton Community Fridge

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Yorkton, Sask. -

With people continuously donating and taking food items, the Yorkton Community Fridge has been going strong for the past few months.

The mutual-aid operation aims to make sure people have food to put onto their shelves, free of charge, while tackling food insecurity within the area.

"The community fridge is a resource for individuals to be able to come and either pick up food, if there is food in it, or drop-off food donations at anytime 24/7,” said Martha Gares, volunteer and board member for the Yorkton Community Fridge.

“There are zero barriers to access it, other than if there’s food available or not at that time."

The community organization relies completely on food or monetary donations from the public and a few local partnerships in order to operate.

It is located at the Society for the Involvement of Good Neighbours (SIGNS) parking lot. Although the rental space for the fridge is donated by SIGNS, the board who runs the initiative is made up entirely of volunteers.

“The volunteer board is made up of a bunch of different professionals from the area who came together noticing that there were some issues with food insecurity in the community, especially during COVID,” Gares said.

“A lot of our other members are working in nutrition. They were seeing families were going without, this was sort of one way to respond to that and try to offer up another resource in the community.”

One local business has donated about $1,000 worth of food to the fridge, and has committed to dropping off donations of food products on a weekly basis.

“To date we have donated about 150 pounds of harvest products to the fridge,” Geoff Propp, vice-president and general manager of Harvest Meats, said about the fairly new initiative.

“We have made it a goal of ours for this year to make weekly drop-offs for products that we’re either working on with our RND (research and design) teams, or products that are approaching the best before date that stores can’t take with their orders.”

As a local business, Propp said involving staff members with the community initiative has been a great way to give back.

“We’re really happy to have an outlet here in the city for some of those products to go to instead of them going to waste,” he said.

“It also gives our staff a chance to get involved in the community and help out where they can.”

Propp added that Harvest Meats is happy to contribute to the cause as food insecurity is an issue to the people of Yorkton.

"Access to food is a basic human right, and as food has become more expensive very rapidly over the past few years, access to food has become difficult,” said Propp.

"Yorkton is a small community, but we have the same problems that larger centres have, access to food, access to shelter, so this is a really great thing they have going on here and we love to support it going forward."

People who are interested in dropping off food donations are encouraged to check the group’s social media to see what items are needed.

“People don’t have to check with us before dropping stuff off, but they should check on the website for the list of acceptable donations just so you don’t drop off something that we can’t take and ends up having to be thrown out,” she said.

Gares said the fridge is open to anyone in the community and not only for those in need.

“Anyone can access the fridge at any time so that can even be individuals looking for food for themselves,” Gares said.

“Sometimes we’ll see support workers coming to grab food on behalf of clients, there are no barriers to access, there is no application process or anything, anyone is welcomed to come and use the fridge.”

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