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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Legion fridge donation lets NOTL food bank provide fresh produce

Newark Neighbours food bank has a shiny new fridge, thanks to a donation from the Niagara-on-the-Lake Legion Branch 124.

The donation was part of the Legion's community outreach program, said Legion member Stan Harrington.

When the Legion found out Newark Neighbours was receiving fresh produce from the town's community garden, but had no way to store it for longer than a day, members stepped up to help the charity out.

“This allows them to take the donations and put them in the fridge so they can give their clients better, nutritious food,” Harrington said.

“When their clients come in, they now can give (produce) to them.”

The fridge is a commercial grade cooler like you'd find in a restaurant or grocery store and being brand new it also comes with a warranty.

Harrington expects the unit should last at least 20 years.

“Obviously, because of where we live, you're gonna get carrots when they're in season, or beans or lettuce or fruit or whatever, so it allows them to give their clients that product, which is an upgrade in their diet.”

Cindy Grant, food bank co-ordinator for Newark Neighbours, said the fridge means they can store fresh food and will help greatly with donations from the community garden.

She said clients are loving it. 

“Previously we had freezers, but we didn't have a refrigerator, and this summer, we are so lucky to be able to get fresh produce from the community garden behind the library that Communities in Bloom looks after,” she said.

“They're bringing the best fresh produce twice a week now and I mean a big flat full of things, not just a little couple leaves of basil. We're getting six or seven varieties of vegetables and herbs,” she said.

“Previously we had to scramble to give it away that day, which wasn't always successful, but now we've got a way of storing it for a few days, so that we can give it away as people come in.”

Another promising partnership comes from Rose Bartel, who operates a stand at the Saturday farmers' market in Garrison Village.

Bartel has offered to give all of her leftover Saturday produce to Newark Neighbours. The fridge will help the charity store those items as well, Grant said.

Because of Bartel's offer, other market vendors also plan to give what they don't sell to Newark's food bank.

“It's amazing. So we're gonna get, hopefully not too much, but we're gonna get probably a fairly large supply every weekend, from now till the end of the summer. And we really are going to take advantage of the fridge then. That's gonna come in really handy.”

She said the charity is also exploring ways to use the fridge during the winter, but no decisions on what types of food will be available have been made yet.

Grant made a point of thanking the Legion, Communities in Bloom and Bartel for their generous donations.

She said the friidge is just the beginning of a larger partnership with Legion members, who have been phoning every week to see how they can help out.