3M, United Way team up to battle hunger.
United Way Leeds and Grenville and 3M Canada have partnered to launch the region's first 3M Harvest Lunch in the area.
The Leeds and Grenville 3M Harvest Lunch aims to provide 1,000 free lunches to the most vulnerable across Leeds and Grenville and support local businesses.
From Sept. 15 to Sept. 30, the United Way 3M Harvest Team will work with six United Way agencies across Leeds and Grenville and 3M staff members to help serve and deliver lunches provided by local businesses and restaurants.
"We're really proud to extend that to the Leeds and Grenville area this year," said Penny Wise, president of 3M Canada. The 3M Harvest Lunch in London, Ont., has been supported by 3M Canada for 16 years and is expanding to Eastern Ontario.
Every $10 meal sold on the United Way of Leeds and Grenville website will buy a meal for someone in the community who is in need. Community members looking to participate can volunteer to deliver food or donate money towards a meal.
"We thought it would be a great opportunity to bring the Harvest Lunch here to our community,” said Trish Buote, executive director of the United Way Leeds and Grenville.
The pandemic has affected many people's daily lives, and has increased food insecurity, with more people struggling to have access to healthy food, safe housing and other basic needs than ever before.
"Certainly it's an opportune time now to look at how do we help those who maybe don't know where their next meal is coming from," said Buote.
Food banks in the area have indicated that there have been more individuals using them. With schools being closed for most of the year, families with school-aged children have struggled without the food support that they would typically receive from different facility-run programs, said Buote.
"Food costs have increased," added Buote.
She said the local food bank was having a hard time staying on top of demand, and a recent study done by the food bank anticipates it will likely take 10 years to recover from the effects of the pandemic, for users to experience stabilized food security.
A local United-Way-funded agency, Connect Youth has seen an 83 per cent increase in youth requesting food.
"What we're really asking our community to do is buy meals for those who are hungry in our community," said Buote.
The official launch of the Leeds and Grenville Harvest Lunch is on Sept. 15 at Loaves and Fishes in Brockville, and then 3M and United Way staff will give out the lunches at different United Way agencies throughout the remainder of the month.
"It's a really great way to engage with restaurants who are obviously struggling from the pandemic and really help those who are in need in the community," said Wise. She said that so much of 3M's culture is about volunteering, helping and giving back so this is a great opportunity for the 3M team to give back to the community.
Jessica Munro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times