BLANK SPACER

Creator of Fairfield community pantry hopes to help destigmatize food insecurity

Victoria food pantry is modeled after Little Free Libraries

A Fairfield woman’s vision for a community food pantry has become a reality.

A new food pantry outside the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association building offers non-perishable food items for anyone in need. It operates on a “leave what you can, take what you need” basis. (Courtesy of Caitlin Boudreau)

Using a City of Victoria My Great Neighbourhood grant, Caitlin Boudreau created a food pantry outside of the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association building. Based on the concept of the popular, Victoria-wide Little Free Libraries, the food pantry runs on a ‘give what you can, take what you need basis,’ with a goal of making food easily accessible for anyone who might need it.

Boudreau says it’s been a busy spot since it was installed two weeks ago – at one point the pantry was so full that an overflow basket was placed next to it for additional donations.

“It really warms my heart to see how much people are involved,” she said.

Boudreau, a registered dietician for the Victoria Cool Aid Society, applied for the grant through the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association. While she spearheaded the project, Boudreau says the pantry belongs to the entire community.

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“My goal is that it’s not my pantry. It’s just something we are all working on.

“Food insecurity is something we don’t always see,” she added. “Now with COVID, I think that’s really added another layer to stress, and perhaps food insecurity for people who were once a bit more food secure.”

Boudreau said another goal is to reduce stigma.

“It shouldn’t be this hidden thing or something that people feel shame about. I want people to feel comfortable just coming and going.”

The pantry has already been filled with everything from coconut water and cans of beans to homemade jams and tomato sauce. For now, only non-perishable items are encouraged.

“I really want people to use it. The donation aspect has been amazing, we have tons and tons of stuff,” Boudreau said. “I’m really wanting people to get out there and grab some stuff.”

Boudreau said she has dreams of one day expanding the initiative into something bigger. For now, she hopes it might inspire other Victoria residents to start something similar in their own neighbourhoods.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 threatens the food security of millions of Canadians


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