The Antigonish Food Access Center and how they help the community.
2016 HungerCount statistics show that 23,840 people were assisted by food banks in the province of Nova Scotia last year. This is a huge number and in Antigonish, the Students' Union Food Resource Center and the Antigonish Food Access Center are up to the challenge!
The Antigonish Food Access Center recently received more than 1,000 lbs of food from Trick or Eat, and from campaigns like WE Charities’ ‘We Scare Hunger’ in local elementary and secondary schools. Touring the Antigonish Food Access Center, the quality of work that they do is undeniably spectacular.
According to Patricia Norman, one of the volunteers, the Access Center is Nova Scotia’s best for a number of reasons. “I think that what makes us different is that we’re non-judgmental," she said, explaining that most food banks require clients to meet a number of criteria in order to access services; particularly related to financial situation and lifestyle. At the Antigonish Food Access Center, clients must simply be in need; if a person needs food, they’ll get food - no one is turned away.
The community is another reason for this, Norman says. Anyone who’s ever been to Antigonish knows how generous of a town it is, and the shelves of the access center undoubtedly reflect that. Norman isn’t the only one who thinks this as clients come from as far as Cape Breton to visit the food bank.
Clients visit the center once every three weeks and receive a ‘basics bag’ including canned items and pastas, fresh vegetables and fruit, basic ingredients such as flour and oil, and ‘snack food.’ Clients with particular dietary needs can also find gluten free or protein enhanced food items on a separate shelf, and baby food and diapers are provided to clients with children.
The center doesn’t just provide food; they also help out with backpacks and school supplies for kids, and basic hygiene items like toilet paper and laundry soap are also doled out. They also help make the holidays a little bit more special. Currently, the center is preparing its annual Christmas boxes, which will include the usual staples alongside turkey, Christmas treats, gifts, shampoo, conditioner, and toothbrushes. “Everyone gets more at Christmas," says Norman - as is, of course, the generous spirit of the holiday.
A concert put on by The Townhouse Session Players on November 4 helped raise funds to make these Christmas boxes great - donating all the proceeds from the concert and CD sales to the Center. The Townhouse Session Players hold these concerts throughout the year - so be sure to keep an eye out for their next performance!
While the Antigonish Food Access Center serves the entire population of Antigonish, the Student Food Resource Center caters specifically to StFX students. The resource center is a “free, confidential, and accessible service aiming to provide all students with the appropriate resources to manage a sufficient, healthy diet”. Found at the back of MacKinnon Hall, all students are encouraged to stop by and check it out; the service is open 1:10-6:10 PM every Monday to Friday.
Looking to make a contribution to either of these food banks? Food donations for the Student Food Resource Center can be brought straight to the center itself, as can donations for the Antigonish Food Access Center. Donation boxes for the Access Center can also be found at both local grocery stores and several churches throughout town. You can also keep an eye out for the Townhouse Session Players’ concerts that will happen throughout the year.
Some of the most needed items for both food banks are as follows: milk or substitutes (non-refrigerated), fresh fruit, canned meat, peanut butter, rice, cooking oil, personal hygiene items (small shampoos, conditioners, soaps, etc…), and nuts.