Free community food pantry opens in Fairfield
VICTORIA -- We’ve all seen those little community library boxes sprouting up throughout our neighbourhoods. Now, Victoria’s Fairfield neighbourhood is home to the first-of-its-kind community food pantry in the city.
“I really wanted to try it out as a trial project,” said Caitlin Boudreau, a registered dietitian who first had the idea to create the pantry.
The sign on the front of the pantry says it all: Give what you can, take what you need.
“I think there is a misconception that everyone is super well off in Fairfield, that nobody needs some help,” said Boudreau. “We have a lot of seniors in the neighbourhood, lots of students as well, and again now because of COVID I think a lot of people are struggling a little bit more than they were previously.”
The Mustard Seed Food Bank in downtown Victoria agrees with her. Jeremy Vargas is the donor relations coordinator with the Mustard Seed. He says demand for the foodbank has risen significantly in 2020.
“This year has seen a huge increase in need, actually by about 30 per-cent for individuals and families,” he said.
With that increase in demand, Vargas says this innovative project can help to relieve some of the pressure being placed on food banks.
“We think it’s so cool when people come up with creative ways to serve their community at a time like this,” said Vargas.
Steve Marta lives in the neighbourhood and when his wife read about the community pantry on Facebook, they loaded up a donation bag.
“It’s a way for people to help the community – but also help themselves as well – and within communities not necessarily known for needing help,” said Marta. “I think in this day and age help is needed in every community.”
“It’s an amazing idea,” he said.
When CTV News asked Boudreau if she had any expansion plans, she said she has many.
“I have all kinds of crazy ideas,” said Broudreau. “I would love for other people to build these in their communities.”
“I mean, I just started in Fairfield because this is where I live but I would love for other people to do it,” she said.
The food pantry is located at the Fairfield Community Place, 1330 Fairfield Road. Organizers are currently looking for donations of non-perishable food and personal care items.