Kingston city council voted almost unanimously in favour of funding a community food distribution warehouse that will help bring food to those in need across the KFL&A region.
The city agreed to offer up $75,000 a year for five years — a total of $375,000 — for the warehouse. The space would fall under the umbrella of the KFL&A United Way, which is adding $250,000 as well, but would serve various food security partners like Loving Spoonful, Lionhearts Inc. and Kingston Community Health Centre.
The city says the warehouse would “serve as a mechanism for local organizations to efficiently access food for their clients in a cost-effective manner.”
According to Bhavana Varma, president & CEO, United Way KFL&A, they are currently interested in a few spaces, but have yet to reveal where the warehouse would be. Varma said the warehouse would need to be about 10,000 square feet in size to accommodate their needs.
The warehouse would store food surpluses from local farmers or other food sources who are willing to donate. Varma said last year, they received a donation of 2,000 pounds of squash, but could have received a 6,000-pound donation if there was a space to hold it.
The space would also house refrigerators that would be a boon to an operation like Lionhearts, which served more than 250,000 prepared meals throughout the pandemic.
Finally, the warehouse would also help with Kingston Community Health Centre’s good food box program, which has been in high demand since the pandemic, according to Helen Mabberly, program manager with the centre. The program allows people to order fresh fruit and vegetables at wholesale prices.
She says that before the pandemic, the centre was doing 3,000 good food boxes a month, but that has risen to 9,300, with a huge uptake in the senior population.
Only one city councillor, Simon Chapelle, voted against the motion. He suggested that the city opt to encourage residents to individually donate through the city’s greenhouse gas reduction fund, which would apply because of the waste reduction aspect of the project.
City CAO Lanie Hurdle made it clear that this fund would not be sufficient for the funds needed, since it only raised $30,000 last year, and that the money used by the city to help fund the project would come from provincial funds earmarked for such projects.