A helping hand close to home

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Food on display at the Christ Church United Food Pantry on January 6

For Chesterville residents, getting access to food when in need has probably never been easier. Chesterville’s Christ Church United offers a Food Pantry twice per week with no registration required and no questions asked. The Pantry is essentially a food bank, but runs informally as a way to ensure that those who need food have it without needing to travel far. 

Christine Cross-Barkley is the Office Administrator at Christ Church United. She explained that the Pantry actually began as a second part of another project – a community garden. In 2021, the Church started a FAITH Garden, which stands for “Food Available in the Home”. Anyone from the community was invited to come to the FAITH Garden and help themselves to fresh produce. The project was very well received, allowing for it to be doubled in size in 2022. 

A wide variety of things are planted in the FAITH Garden, but what people have seemed to enjoy the most were the fresh tomatoes. Soon after the Garden was started, members of the community began dropping off things such as cans of soup and boxes of cereal at the church for others to take when they were in need. 

Christine and other Church members began to realize that there may be a need in the community for food year round, so the decision was made to move the operation indoors for the winter months. The Church began setting up the Pantry in the back of their building in a wheelchair accessible location, where food is laid out on a table. The Pantry has been well used, and the Church is hoping that even more people will be comfortable to come in and use it. 

North Dundas residents have other options available when they are in danger of going hungry, including the Community Food Share in Winchester, and the House of Lazarus Food Bank in South Mountain. Christine is aware that the House of Lazarus Food Bank makes deliveries, including to some places in Chesterville. However, registration is required. She believes that some of the people who use the Church’s Food Pantry do so to avoid having to register, particularly if they only anticipate having to use the service one or two times. “It could be a tough time, there could be an emergency situation,” said Christine. The Pantry also offers a convenient location for those who live in Chesterville who don’t drive or don’t want to travel far. Christine made it clear that House of Lazarus is aware of the Food Pantry, and that the two organizations would like to work together, where possible. 

Christine was careful to note that the Pantry offers dry goods, toiletries, and a few household necessities, but perishable products such as dairy items, bread, and meat are not offered. If anyone comes into the Pantry who needs dairy, bread, or meat, the Church will provide a gift certificate to Mike Dean’s grocery store so they can go out and buy these items. The food and the gift certificates are all funded by donations from members of the community. “Your community – not just the Church but your community – is here to help you,” said Christine. “We don’t want people to go hungry.”

The Food Pantry is open every Tuesday and Friday from 9 am to 12 pm at Christ Church United, located at 5 Casselman Street in Chesterville. If you are unavailable during those hours, an appointment can be made for a different time by calling 613-619-5960. Don’t hesitate to stop by – you will be welcomed with open arms!

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