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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

St. Catherine’s community freezes ‘lifeline’ for some as food costs rise

Lincoln County Humane Society executive director Kevin Stroband and director of operations Mike France said they expect the community fridge to last for many years.

When Kevin Stroband opened St. Catherine’s first community fridge last July, he didn’t imagine how much it would need.

The fridge, located opposite the Lincoln County Humane Society on Fourth Avenue, receives daily donations from area residents and fresh produce from partner organization Community Care.

The Human Society’s executive director, Stroband, leaves a book in a small gazebo-like structure for people to leave comments.

Recently a comment broke his heart.

“They went to Walmart and knew they had $13 in their account. Their bank card was declined, and they just came straight over and got the food because they had nothing. So the thought goes down my spine. The coolness gives[people]such a living to be,” Stroband said. “It’s so sad, but it’s great that we’re the resource where they can get something.”

Shortly after the Humane Society’s fridge opened, a second fridge appeared at the Covenant Christian Reformed Church on Parnell Road.

Pastor Janet Razeboul said demand is stable. Within hours of re-stocking the fridge, it gets empty again.

“I chatted with a gentleman outside the fridge this morning and the shelves were almost bare as he was looking for something … he said for himself, it’s a lifeline,” she recalled. “He’s on a disability pension and isn’t able to buy groceries… we see 20 to 30 people come through the door a day.”

Both Strooband and Ryzebol believe the rising cost of food may be to blame for the increase in the need in their fridges.

A report by Statistics Canada states that between April 2021 and April 2022, the price of food increased by 9.7 percent.

Those rising prices are having a big impact on Canadians. As noted in the report, 20 percent of households indicated that they are likely to receive a lot (seven percent) or some degree (13 percent) of food or food from community organizations in the next six months. This includes food banks, community centers, school events, faith-based organizations or community gardens and fridges.

The report showed that rising costs of shelter and transportation were affecting Canada’s ability to budget money for food.

Third Community Fridge is looking for a home in the city. Steph Allo and Jenna Cooper run the Instagram account CommunityFrijaniaGra. They have acquired a refrigerator and are ready to build a weather-friendly structure to keep it; They need a partner business to engage it.

Allo and Cooper said their fridge plans to make it self-sufficient and more neighborhood-based.

“There are many barriers to access to food in our current system; Cost, location, transportation, access… Community Fridge aims to remove many of those barriers,” he said. “Community fridges remind us that we are interconnected as members of the community and have the power to take care of each other. We want to see the whole neighborhood participate in the fridge; Leaving whatever they can and also leaving with a few items.”

Since opening the fridge to Humane Society, Stroband said he has had other organizations asking for advice.

“(There’s) a lot of things that I’ve learned. So at least I think three or four people have arrived just to say, ‘That was great, I want to do it. How do I do it? ‘”

Both Ryzebol and Strooband said that the anonymity of their fridges makes it easier for people to feel like they can reach them.

“You don’t need to register. You don’t need to sign up,” Raijebol said.

“We don’t see that much,” Stroband said. “They can just go in and take what they want and leave.”

The Lincoln County Humane Society’s fridge at 160 Fourth Avenue is open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the fridge is available 24 hours a day at Convent Christian Reformed Church, 278 Parnal Road.

World Nation News Desk
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