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Food insecurity pushes seniors' centre to offer fresh produce

Seniors 'who were just making it are no longer making it," Askennonia Senior Centre official says. Fresh produce bags will be available monthly until year-end

Inflationary pressures have led to Askennonia Senior Centre to create a new initiative designed to help out not only its members, but others living in the area.

The Midland-based organization distributed the first of its food bags to needy seniors Wednesday morning. Each cloth grocery sack is filled to the brim with a wide variety of fresh produce.

“We have been listening to the seniors we’ve been working with,” explains centre community resource navigator Mary Moreau.

“There’s a lot of food insecurity these days because of the high prices. This produce costs us $17 for each bag’s worth, but is likely worth about $25. Everything’s from Borsa (Wholesale in Midland).”

Askennonia has funds to purchase the produce through the Simcoe Community Investment Fund. It has also used discretionary funding this year to help a senior who needed a new washing machine, one who needed new glasses and another who needed a furnace repair along with providing grocery cards for those in need.

“We have $25,000 this year for discretionary funding,” said Moreau, who has met with about 300 seniors to help them with various issues or projects since starting with Askennonia.

"I do an in-take with them," Moreau says, referring to an interview that determines whether they may be eligible for program support.

"There are so many seniors living just under $22,000 a year. Those, who were just making it, are no longer making it."

So far, the plan is to offer fresh produce bags monthly until year-end and then reapply for the next batch of funding.

Moreau and others from Askennonia were busy filling 50 bags for Wednesday’s pick up with each one containing red peppers, bananas, a pineapple, tomatoes and cucumbers and other fresh ingredients.

Area residents don't have to be Askennonia members to take advantage of Moreau's help.

Added Moreau: "It's probably a 60/40 split between members and non-members."

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country‚Äôs most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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