Central Food Network continuing to feed local families over the holidays

·2 min read

Central Food Network is ramping up its annual Christmas food hamper program to offer a helping hand to struggling families in the Highlands East area this festive season.

Since launching in 2016, the organization has attempted to alleviate escalating hunger and heat-security issues in the region through the distribution of food, fuel and other supports to the people who need them. The venture is a four-way collaboration between the Highlands East Food Hub, the Cardiff Community Food Bank, the Highlands East Community Cooks and Heat Bank Haliburton County.

Hampers will include a turkey and all the fixings needed to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner, as well as some extra edible delights. Different toys and gifts for children will also be included, courtesy of the Haliburton County Home Builder’s Association.

“We don’t want to see anyone going hungry, or any kids going without,” said Ken Mott, manager for the Highlands East Food Hub. “Although our doors aren’t physically open the way they used to be, our hearts are and we want people to reach out if they need help.”

Distribution of the hampers will take place this week, beginning on Monday, Dec. 14 and running until Friday, Dec. 18.

Last holiday season, Central Food Network handed out 115 Christmas hampers to families in the area. Staff are expecting the need to be even greater this year, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the organization has seen an 11 percent increase in the number of visits to its member food banks.

The Highlands East Community Cooks have also been kept busy over the past nine months, distributing close to 7,000 frozen meal servings throughout the community since the pandemic began.

The only way the four groups have been able to keep up and meet the heightened demand is due to a substantial increase in the number, and amount of donations made by supporters.

“We have been overwhelmed with the number of donations that we have received,” stated Cam McKenzie, manager of the Cardiff Community Food Bank. “People have really stepped up to the plate, both here and at our Wilberforce location, so we have been able to fully stock the shelves and fill the hampers.”

The Highlands East Food Hub is open Wednesdays and Fridays, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for people to pick up regular food hampers. Cardiff Community Food Bank is open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month, and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday, and the third Thursday.

For more information, visit www.centralfoodnetwork.org.

Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo