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La Bouffe Additionnelle needs support for cooler wheels

The La Bouffe Additionelle food pantry in Huntingdon recently received just under $48,500 from the provincial government to purchase new freezers and automotive equipment. Essentially, the organization is looking to invest in a refrigerated truck, and soon.

The funding is part of the Quebec Food Banks Infrastructure program to fight food insecurity by strengthening the province’s aid network, reducing food waste, and improving storage capacity.

The Moisson Sud-Ouest food bank, which serves over 80 organizations in the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent, MRC de Beauharnois-Salaberry, and MRC de Vaudreuil-Soulanges, also received $500,000 in funding through this initiative for the expansion of its new warehouse in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. La Bouffe Additionnelle, which is one of the organizations served by Moisson Sud-Ouest, learned about the call for projects through the regional food bank.

A refrigerated truck would allow La Bouffe Additionnelle to travel greater distances to collect donated food products from local grocery stores. With the current vehicle, the organization is restricted to the Huntingdon area, and drivers are not able to go even as far as Ormstown to collect goods because the truck is unable to keep products cold. The situation becomes even more pressing come May when budgetary restrictions will force Moisson Sud-Ouest to stop deliveries to the area.

Sylvie Racette, the director of La Bouffe Additionnelle, says a new truck is essential, but the organization is still short more than half of the funds necessary to purchase the vehicle. She has applied to the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent’s second call for vitalisation projects, but she is looking for private donations as well to help cover the costs.

 

La Bouffe Additionnelle director Sylvie Racette centre and employees Stephanie Patenaude and Alain Mayer work to keep the local food pantry well stocked The organization is hoping to purchase a refrigerated truck in the near future PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

Racette says that along with being able to collect more goods, the organization is hoping to use the truck to help those facing food insecurity in more remote areas of the Haut-Saint-Laurent who may not be able to travel to Huntingdon. They also hope to be able to loan the truck out to other community organizations working to fight food insecurity in the region.

Need continues to grow

Racette says the need in the area for food support is significant. “It is growing. I have seen an increase since I started last June,” she notes, while acknowledging the clientele is changing. She says the organization has gone from helping seven or eight clients per day to as many as 20. “The paradigm has changed,” she says, noting they are in the process of adjusting their rules around who is eligible for help. With inflation, some who own their own home and have jobs are still struggling to make ends meet, she explains.

This past December the organization distributed 450 food baskets. Racette says that while the demand has increased, so too has the number of volunteers. At least 20 people volunteered to help with the Christmas basket distribution, and she has six volunteers who regularly come to help. She notes that the community is also becoming more involved. For example, the Darragh Trucking Company loaned the organization a truck to keep food from spoiling when supplies surpassed their freezer capacity last December. Maison Russet also helped to store frozen goods. “The yesses came quickly,” she says.

Racette notes that after undergoing a period of transition, the food pantry is on solid footing with a supportive board of directors and new projects on the horizon.

“We dream about being able to provide Easter food baskets,” she says, suggesting they could also provide baskets at the start of the school year to help young families, or during other more difficult times of the year. “We simply don’t realize the extent of the need within the community,” she admits.

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