Timmins Community Food Services Hub to open in the spring

There is still room for tenants dealing with food and vulnerable populations

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The Timmins Community Food Service Hub will open this spring, and the Timmins Food Bank will open from its new location at 187 Cedar St. S., the former Daily Press building.

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Other tenants include the Anti-Hunger Coalition and have even more space.

Brian Marks, Chief Executive Officer of the Cochrane District Social Services Management Board (CDSSAB) said: “We are certainly interested in hearing from organizations that have any relationship or program with food, food preparation or vulnerable people.”

Timmins Food Bank can now store a large amount of food in one location instead of three in the city. Larger vehicles can utilize the rear loading dock for bulk deliveries. The one-story building will be more accessible to those with mobility issues than its current location on Spruce Street North.

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Multiple organizations under one roof can more easily partner on initiatives that address the root causes of food insecurity. Community kitchens, cooking classes, and innovative programs to save food from grocery stores and restaurants are some potential examples.

“We wanted to make sure that everyone in our 13 municipalities had access to food seven days a week,” says Marks.

The idea of ​​a community food hub was driven by the limited social welfare relief funds CDSSAB received from the state during the pandemic. This forced them to choose fighting, and they chose food security.

Even before the pandemic, there were days when the food program was not available at Timmins.The Timmins Food Bank became the driving force behind the initiative when CDSSAB recognized the challenges faced during the pandemic.

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“The most recent estimate is that Timmins Food Bank has 4,400 registrations. With a population of 41,000, that’s more than 10 percent of households,” Marks said, adding that number was higher than the food bank had 20 years ago. It added that it has continued to grow since it opened. “The risk of people not having access to food was too great. It was self-evident and CDSSAB had to go ahead with this.”

CDSSAB offers low-income, affordable housing and this is their first community food hub. Marks said it is entirely within their mandate to serve people on social assistance.

“Given Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, food is right after shelter,” Marks said. “We need to be able to put these things in place so that people can focus on what they need to do, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and engage in vocational training, activities or education.”

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For parents working two minimum wage jobs, learning meal prep and menu planning skills can save time, stress, and the need to resort to unhealthy fast food. He added that these skills have nothing to do with financial means.

“I didn’t know what to do with food until I was in my 30s,” he confides.

Hubs are also open to the larger community. Marks hopes the school will take advantage of the Hub’s large new kitchen.

Marks commended his board and the political leadership of Timmins and the district as needed to understand the food hub.

The concept of “Dignified Food Access” is the latest thinking about how food should be distributed to those in need. Roots to Harvest, a food bank in Thunder Bay, has released guidelines in 2021 on how food banks can serve without shaming the public. Their recommendations were based on research and focus groups with clients.

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Roots to Harvest says that despite being introduced as an emergency measure in the 1980s, food banks have remained entrenched, transforming the way they operate from providing emergency services to being the starting point for a better life. argue that there is a need.

Their recommendations include not requiring people to prove their need by registering (if they don’t need to be there), providing culturally appropriate food, and allowing people to choose what to eat. It will be

The Daily Press met with Rick Young, chairman of Timmins Food Bank, for a photo shoot with Marks in front of the future Food Hub on Friday.

“Clients don’t have access to the food banks themselves. They come and register, we bring them food, they go to them,” Young said, adding that Dignified Food Access could change that. You have described exactly the type of approach you are trying.

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“We are open to changing things,” he added, noting that they are asking volunteers and clients for ideas.

He’s excited to move into a food hub that’s four times the size of his current three locations combined.

“I have to thank Brian for planting the seed and Antoine Vezinat of CDSSAB for giving the building shape,” he said.

Timmins Food Bank’s future co-tenant, the Anti-Hunger Coalition, actively implements a Dignified Food Access approach, including referring to clients as “community members.” We operate a community garden in the summer, and our food box delivery and co-cooking programs run year-round.

“People in Timmins face significant barriers to food access and know that household food prices in the area are 21% higher than the state average annually,” said Kelsey, Coalition Executive Director. McDonnell said.

“We are very excited about the opportunities this space presents in terms of integrating existing food security programs at Timmins, removing barriers to access to food and enhancing cooperation among community partners. ”

Other tenants are scheduled to move into the building, but Marks was unable to identify them as the contracts are finalized.

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