You see them adding a cute touch to the neighbourhood — little free libraries for people to take books for free. But one Saskatoon family has put a more delicious spin on them to tackle food insecurity.
Joanne Dudiak started the Free Food Donation Box in her Forest Grove neighbourhood two years ago.
She volunteers with École Forest Grove School and said the idea of the food box was brought up to help kids who had been going to school without food.
“We had tried to get it at the school but due to liability and whatnot they weren’t allowed to,” Dudiak said.
So the Saskatoon mom, who lives across the street, decided her family should take up the cause to address food insecurity in their community.
“It just made sense,” she said.
The box is simple: anyone can drop off donations at any time, and anyone can take what they need. Opening the box, it’s stocked with non-perishables like Mac and Cheese and tea.
“Sometimes if food gets damaged or whatnot I will clean it out and keep it as clean as we can,” said Dudiak.
This holiday season, the Free Food Forest Grove donation box raised $800 to put together Christmas hampers for the neighbourhood.
“Not very often do I get to meet the people that pick up the food,” said Dudiak. While giving out the Christmas hampers she got to meet more of the people she’s been helping.
“Especially with COVID this year and people not working this year, there’s a lot of grateful remarks and feedback,” she said.
“When we first did it we weren’t quite sure … would people actually use it or would people actually donate? But it’s been a huge success so far.”
While currently buried under piles of snow, in the summer Dudiak and her family also grow a garden with fresh vegetables on their front yard, free for anyone to pick.
She said she plans to keep the donation box going.