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Christmas food program zeroes in on women needing boost

Fresh Food Weekly receives more than $3,000 from Rona Barrie to buy food for women who have stayed at local shelter
Kaity Fotherby, left, from the Women & Children’s Shelter of Barrie, Barrie Rona's Jesse King and Leah Dyck celebrate Rona's Local Heroes program.

Low-income families and former shelter residents will be getting special packages this Christmas.

Leah Dyck is busily organizing volunteers to deliver food packages to people in Barrie who need a little help getting by.

Dyck’s group, Fresh Food Weekly, received $3,100 from the Rona Local Heroes Campaign to buy food for women who have stayed at the Women & Children’s Shelter of Barrie. 

“We’re going to be delivering to 15 people from the women’s shelter,” said Dyck. “They filled out a form so they can pick and choose what they actually want.”

Most have chosen turkey, but some have asked for cuts of beef and one requested chicken. They will also be receiving some staple groceries along with fruits and vegetables.

The program falls on a similar, smaller food drive Dyck ran last year for six women who had been at the Barrie shelter.

In addition, Stone Horse Farm's Lisa Peterson, who's also manager of the Thornton Farmers’ Market, then asked Dyck to deliver Christmas dinner meal boxes created with the help of farm-to-family vendors to low-income families in Barrie.

This resulted in 50 boxes which will contain a roasting chicken, potatoes, carrots, squash, broccoli, ready-made stuffing and cranberry sauce.

Both will be delivered on Dec. 21.

Dyck also partnered with the owner of East Oro Berry Farm to deliver hot turkey dinner plates on Christmas Eve to people in need, largely seniors and those living in public housing. Last year, that initiative brought food to 25 people.

Fresh Food Weekly managed to have more than $50,000 in produce and food items donated last summer, Dyck said. She put the program on hold after she lost the space she was working in and was unable to find a new location for free.

But she's hopeful to get it back up to speed. She's pursuing charitable status in hopes of landing a grant to resume her charity.

“If worse comes to worst, it will be another six to 12 months before I can pay for a space,” said Dyck. “I’m super dedicated to making this work.

“When people work minimum wage, it’s not enough,” she added of the local need.

In addition, Fresh Food Weekly delivers, which can be beneficial to those who don’t drive or can’t get out, Dyck said.

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About the Author: Marg. Bruineman

Marg. Bruineman is an award-winning journalist who focuses on justice issues and human interest stories
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