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How the St. Jude’s Pantry Program Nourishes our Community through Partnership and Hard Work

Story curated by Takyrah Anderson

Tell us the name of your project or initiative you are involved with.

St. Jude’s Pantry Program.

What have you most loved and appreciated about the community project/initiative you are involved in?

Making and providing delicious, wholesome, homestyle cooked meals for individuals most in need in our communities.

What is your connection to the project/initiative, and why is it so important to you?

I started as a volunteer cooking team lead and am now the Program Coordinator.

How did you switch from being a cooking volunteer to being the Program Coordinator? 

The director of volunteer services at St. Jude’s Blair Richardson, asked me to consider taking the lead on an interim basis when there was an opening for the role with someone leaving the organization.

How did you feel about this change and how do you feel about being in a leadership position now?

The interim position has evolved into a longer-term commitment largely because the work is so rewarding, and the volunteers are amazing.  Leadership in volunteer activities is not a new concept for me. I am grateful that I can use skills that I have developed over the years to give back to our communities.

What is happening through the project/initiative that you would like to see more of?

We have been blessed to partner with Food for Life and have been able to identify large portions of bulk food items that are unsuitable for distribution to their clients and to utilize those items to create more meals for less money. A win-win proposition which enhances our program and keeps donated food going to waste and out of landfills.

In addition, we have identified disparate groups and organizations in our communities who have been seeking opportunities to volunteer in our program.

In addition, to our St. Jude’s volunteer group and the culinary program at White Oaks Secondary School, we have added four additional cooking teams: Halton Police Youth Initiative Program; Adults in Motion Hamilton; Adults in Motion Oakville and the Catholic Women’s League of St. Dominic’s Parrish.

The program has formed quite a few partnerships; can you please provide us some details about how that happened?

The partnerships have grown organically through the contacts we have made over the past year.  Some have reached out to us when they heard about what we are doing and others we have pursued as partners.

What would you like to see happen next for the project/initiative?
I would like to continue to increase the number of volunteer cook team members and leaders so that we can support more people in need.

What would you want, or need from the community to make your next steps successful?

Organizations and groups who are seeking opportunities to give back to our communities to reach out to us and volunteer in this wonderful program.

If all those good things happened, what could be made possible in our community that wasn’t possible before?
The need is great. There is no doubt that there is an ongoing and desperate need for the meals that our program provides. Seniors and others who go through financial insecurity, disability, or infirmity struggle to make healthy meals for themselves.


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