In rural villages surrounding Kirkland Lake, Ont., The Salvation Army is filling in gaps, so everyone can enjoy a glass of milk, a healthy snack and nutritious food.

“Our monthly school snack program and hamper delivery in remote and isolated villages is promoting community wellness and ensuring that individuals, families and children have access to healthy food,” says Lieutenant Robbie Donaldson, who served as the community ministries co-ordinator in Kirkland Lake until becoming the corps officer (pastor) of The Salvation Army Temiskaming Community Church in New Liskeard, Ont., in July.

Lieutenant Robbie says that in most villages, a struggling economy has resulted in a lack of food retailers. Rural shoppers may rely on more expensive and less nutritious food, such as the types available at gas stations and convenience stores.

“Many people in remote communities are limited by geographical isolation, financial restraints and inadequate transport. Many cannot afford vehicles. With no vehicle and no public transport to a town with a supermarket or grocery store, food insecurity and poor health outcomes have become an increasingly troubling issue,” he explains.

Watching Out for Each Other

In Virginiatown, Ont., one of the communities served by The Salvation Army, Melanie delivers school snacks and food boxes to people who need them most.

“I was a teacher’s aid for six years and saw children with no snacks o rnot enough lunch,” she states. “This can negatively affect their school performance. It was easy for me to identify families without them coming out to say they needed help.”

Dozens of hampers are ready to be delivered

Melanie says that in the community of 600, everybody knows everybody. People who struggle do not want others to know.

“When I deliver the food items directly to a home, it protects dignity, and shows love and respect,” she says. “That’s important to people.”

Food boxes include non-perishables, diapers, formula, personal hygiene items, frozen foods, milk, cereal, eggs, bread and fresh produce. As part of the Army’s school nutrition program, the Canadian Red Cross partnered with the local Salvation Army food bank to provide snacks that include granola bars. and applesauce.

“When I deliver the food items directly to a home, it protects dignity, and shows love and respect.” Melanie

“The Salvation Army is grateful for strong partnerships that align with our vision to bring hope to those facing hardship,” says Lieutenant Robbie.

“It's nice to have the assurance that people in my community won’t do without,” says Melanie. “We do as much as we can for each other and watch out for each other.”

Linda Leigh is manager of communications at The Salvation Army’s territorial headquarters in Toronto.

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