Grant money to connect people with food 0
What we eat has a lot to do with what our parents ate; the choices we make, good or bad, often depend on what we’ve been exposed to in our youth.
For years, SIRCH Community Services has been helping local families make choices that include good, whole foods through its programs for parents and the Community Kitchen in Haliburton.
With the addition of a $30,000 grant from the province, the organization will this year be able to provide much more.
“Part of the funding will go to exposing families to our local growers and farmers,” says Daniela Pagliaro, SIRCH’s new manager of community resilience programs.
Six farm tours are planned for this year, starting in a couple of weeks and running into the fall.
Angel Taylor of the Haliburton farmers’ market is co-ordinating with farmers and plans so far include visiting the grain CSA at the Bathe farm and Abbey Gardens near West Guilford to work alongside the volunteers in the community plot.
Each tour will end with food – either making it, eating it or getting to take some home.
An idea for the grain visit, for example, is to have fresh loaves of bread made with locally grown red fife wheat for families.
Food will be given away free.
The tours are for SIRCH clients, but are also open to the wider community.
On top of the farm tours, the organization will also be expanding its Community Kitchen program into Minden.
“We chose [Minden] because they’ve been a pretty keen group, frankly,” SIRCH executive director Gena Robertson says.
Minden Hills council will be approached to donate space for the program, which allows individuals to learn cooking skills and get free meals.
In the Haliburton Community Kitchen, volunteers prepare meals that are then distributed to clients of SIRCH, who are in need of food.
The kitchen also hosts cooking workshops such as Moms in the Kitchen.
The Minden model may be slightly different, Pagliaro says, perhaps with people cooking together and then sitting down to eat together.
The Healthy Communities grant does not cover the cost of food, which means SIRCH is looking for donations from local businesses to get meals out to those in need.
There will be six volunteers at the Minden kitchen at first, with more to come.
“There is no shortage of enthusiasm and amazing ideas [in Minden],” Pagliaro says.
Stretching the grant even further, a kids’ program is in the works called Stir It Up With Kids for children around five years old and their parents.
Those sessions will teach about cooking and healthy food choices.
After the farm tours wrap up, Pagliaro is hoping to run workshops in the fall or winter discussing what can be done with local food.
“I’m super excited about it,” says Pagliaro, who started with SIRCH in July.
Robertson said the programs launched with this money are a creative way to get at deep-seated problems of poverty in Haliburton County.
“These are fun, but the problem is serious,” she said.
SIRCH continues to work toward a community where “all members are fed and fed good, healthy food,” she says.
The intention is to keep the Minden kitchen running indefinitely and repeat the farm tours annually, Pagliaro says.
To sign up for a farm tour, volunteer with a SIRCH program or donate money, call 705-457-1742, email email@example.com or go to www.sirch.on.ca.