Campbell gives presentation on Food Share at fundraising supper
April 4, 2023, 11:22 am
Bethel United Church hosted a Moosomin Food Share fundraising dinner on Wednesday, March 29. The sold-out event was a fundraiser for the Moosomin Food Share, with Samantha Campbell, administrator of the Moosomin Thrift Store & Food Share, speaking after supper about what the Food Share does, how it works, and how people can help. Following is some of Campbell’s speech:
“The Moosomin Food Share first opened its doors in 2004 on main street. Run by paid staff and volunteers, it operated out of the back of the thrift store for years. The organization had a big change in 2018 moving over to 609 Gordon Street where we are currently located.
“The South East HealthAbility Society, which is our legal charitable name, has two divisions—the Moosomin Thrift Store and the Moosomin Food Share. The thrift store sells second hand items to community members while the food share gives out monthly and emergency hampers to those in need. They are two different organizations and they also have two different bank accounts.
“One of the biggest concerns we get is when a person makes a donation, where does that money go. When someone makes a monetary donation to the food share, that money goes into the food share bank account. That money pays for the groceries for our clients, half of the power and energy as well as food share supplies which includes bags for the produce and stamps for tax receipts.
“When someone donates food, as long as it’s not expired, it goes on the shelves which eventually ends up in the hampers. When you donate your second hand items, those items get sorted, priced and eventually sold. That money goes into the thrift store bank account. It’s used for wages, bills, store supplies and eventually as we get a surplus, donations to other organizations which is what you see in the paper. We are so grateful for the amazing support our community gives us and without that support, we wouldn’t be able to give back.
“We are affiliated with Food Banks Canada and Food Banks of Saskatchewan. We pay a small yearly fee to be a part of the network. In return, we get access to grants that they and the government offer and every quarter we get a shipment of groceries at no extra cost.
“One of the amazing projects that we support as a thrift store and a food share is the McNaughton High School Breakfast Program. We give a monetary donation to help them buy groceries for the year. When we have a surplus of groceries from Food Banks Canada we give those to the local schools, daycares and put them on the counter at the Thrift Store for free to customers. The food items that are donated by the community are not given away. We were also able to donate an aerogarden to their home ec class this year to help them learn about gardening and be able to grow their own produce. The last few years we received the after school grant which gave us 280 snack bags for children along with money to buy fresh produce with. We were fortunate to be able to donate a few of the snack packs to the local schools and daycares.
“Along with giving back to the community, we strive to buy all of our groceries locally. Groceries are bought at either Borderland Co-op or Moosomin Fine Foods. We buy meat from local farmers in the area. We get a lot of non-perishable food items through individual donations, church supporters, fundraisers and food drives. Some of our biggest supporters come from organizations and businesses such as Red Apple, McNaughton High School and MacLeod Elementary. We also have a partnership with KFC which enables them to donate their leftover frozen chicken to us. In the summer, we have people drop off their garden produce which we try to use for our hampers. A lot of people aren’t aware but we have plenty of fridge and freezer room and we are able to accept perishable food items as long as we have their contact information.
“In the summertime, we also plant our own garden. In previous years, we were generously given a plot by Sharpe’s. It was there we planted carrots, potatoes, beans, beets, lettuce, etc. Some years were more successful than others. We usually have one to two summer students in the summer who help tend to the garden. The produce we receive from the garden goes back into the hampers. If the lettuce wasn’t ready the week hampers went out, then that we bagged and sold it at the thrift store. The money we charge goes straight back to the food share.
This past year we had a plot at the Moosomin Community Gardens. In the fall, we were able to get a grant and purchase a few Aero Garden Towers. An aerogarden is an indoor gardening system. We currently have four aerogarden farm towers and one bounty aerogarden. We have been able to grow herbs, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant. With that produce, we’ve been able to add them to our hampers. And just like the seasonal produce, what doesn’t work out for our hampers, we sell at the front. We planted our first crop in October and we just planted our second crop in March. This next crop consists of kale, lettuce, spinach, beans, herbs and Swiss chard.
“Since being in the new building, we’ve added a lot of great new features. By sourcing and receiving numerous grants, we were able to purchase an industrial cooler and freezer, new tables, bins, new flooring, put a sink in and the aero garden towers. A new grant that actually turned into a partnership recently is the SPCA Pet Grant. Which essentially means we became a Pet Food Bank as well. There are eight pet food banks in Saskatchewan, including ours. Every few months, the SPCA will buy us pet food to give to our clients that are in need or we are able to give it to rescue shelters. We can also accept pet food as long as it hasn’t been opened.
“Before Covid, we would have around 18-22 hampers per month. This month, we had 36 hampers. If someone is in need of a hamper, all they have to do is fill out a food share application and that automatically gets them a hamper as long as they meet our area requirements. You have to live in Moosomin, Wapella, Fleming or Welwyn to qualify. If they live outside of those areas, we will direct them to their nearest food bank. You can apply for a food hamper in person or on our website.
The information we collect is imputed into Link2Feed, which is Food Banks Canada software and it is confidential. We don’t even use names for our clients. Each client is given a client number and that is how we identify them when they come for their hampers.
“We have two volunteers that come in every week in the food share. We thank them very much as they are the ones that get the hampers ready. When the hampers are ready to be picked up, it is one of the paid staff members that gets the perishable items ready and hands them to the client. Once a month, they will get a bin filled with non-perishable food items such as cereal, coffee, pasta, soup, lunch, snacks for children, fruit, rice, vegetables and toiletries. They also get a bag of fresh produce, milk, eggs and bread. We give out a bag of freezer items such as meat, frozen vegetables, hash browns, etc. At Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas they do get a bigger bin which includes all the fixings for their supper. Hams and Turkeys are given out along with potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. At Christmas time, we give out a gift for the adults and children. We have a lot of the church members knit homemade items which we include in the hampers and the Nutrien Mine also donates brand new toys for the children. Any extra presents needed are bought all in Moosomin.
“In the past two weeks, I’ve made a website for the thrift store and food share. You can check it out at www.moosominfoodshare.com. On the website you can apply for a food hamper online, donate to our organization, read about upcoming news and find out almost everything regarding the organization.