Young People Addressing Food Insecurity in Southern Alberta City – Lethbridge

The closet is stocked in Nobleford’s Centennial Park in southern Alberta.

The young members of DO Crew Jr. revealed their latest project, a small free pantry, which encourages the community to bring food if they need it, or leave one for someone else.

“It’s really nice to see what we’ve done now that it’s actually happening,” said Sydney Vandenoek, member of DO Crew Jr..

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The new installment called “Pantry of Hope” officially opened with an opening ceremony on Wednesday.

Identifying access to food resources as a necessity within the city, the DO Crew decided to create the pantry, including organizing a food donation campaign to help fill the shelves.

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Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) staff believe the new structure creates availability for people facing food insecurity.

“Being quite far away from any of the big cities… if a family is struggling to get gas in their vehicle, they can’t get to these other food supports,” said Stacey Vandenhoek, youth program leader at FCSS.

“Having something accessible that they can walk to is a big step for the community.”

A youth-led initiative, Nobleford Mayor Bill Oudshoorn feels it is an important experience for DO Crew members.

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“We can engage children in things they can give back,” said Oudshoorn. “It’s a great leadership thing. Kids can be in control, design and execute it.”

The Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta Community Foundation funded the project through its Youth in Action Grants Program. The group provided $1,500 to help build and stock the pantry.

“We know that a lot of young people have great ideas, but they don’t always have the wherewithal to make those ideas come true, so that’s what this program is all about,” said Executive Director Charleen Davidson.

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Davidson says supporting young people can encourage more humanitarian efforts.

“It’s not a dream, it becomes a reality and a tangible goal,” said Davidson. “I also hope it inspires them one day, when they are older, to give back to their community in other ways.”

Anyone can access the pantry, which is on the north side of Centennial Park.

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