Kindersley and area have many families and singles from all ethnic backgrounds who are in severe food shortage. While partnering with a local grocery store and bakery, the Loaves and Fishes/FoodMesh program is able to supply the basics of groceries, goods and supplies to ease budgets for those who are in need. They continue to have people coming to them who have not eaten in three days. There is a single mom with six kids without groceries, a mom driving 40 minutes through a storm to get groceries for her family. The program knows they are just touching a small percentage. Every week there are new people from Kindersley and surrounding areas who have just been made aware of the Loaves and Fishes/FoodMesh Program. Training in basic life skills is another need for many.
Barbe Dunn with the Loaves and Fishes/FoodMesh program talks about how good it feels to help those in need.
“I think one of the nicest things that we've seen with FoodMesh, is the people who come now and visit. It's not just coming to get food. We had a young couple that came and they really had struggles. But what they were saying is, the affirmation and the acknowledgement of them as people, actually meant more to them than the food,” Dunn said.
At the store the different departments pull products before their best-before dates and box them up. Four times a week the Foodmesh teams pick up these groceries, bring them back to the church, sort and prepare them for the evening pickup. In the evening people register at the door and then in small groups “shop” from the groceries picked up that day. The variety, quality and quantity of food is outstanding. A local grocery store and bakery donate bread which is picked up once a week.
As the program continues to help individuals and families every day, one of many families came to mind when asked about the impact of the FoodMesh program.
“Some of our volunteers took on a couple in particular that were really in a tough spot and it was just like a miracle unfolded. Everywhere they went they found this for them, they found that for them. There's no reason that they should have had everything they got, it was just absolutely amazing, and now they're doing better. They're healthy and they have a good place to live, they have food, he is starting to work, it’s just really good. You can't put a price tag on that one either,” Dunn added.
Speaking about the volunteers, Dunn said there are about ten people who help with the pickups and sorting on Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays, with more coming to help this week and next week. When the kids come in with their parents for pickup days, the volunteers meet them with open arms.
“I just watched the volunteers and they just surrounded these kids as if their kids would have come home saying ‘how you guys doing? We've got some stuff over here for you, we've been waiting for you’. That kind of thing and their eyes just light up, it's so cool to watch,” Dunn said.
Dunn then talked about just some of the struggles people have had, and how the FoodMesh program has helped them.
“Some of these people have been struggling for so long. It's just like really, people actually care? Is this really happening to me? I'm not a forever loser, I have hope and I think that's again something that people are starting to get hope so they think, okay I don't have to put money into buying groceries. Now I can maybe get the plates on my car. Some of our best volunteers are people that originally were part of the program. They know the value of the program and they just come to serve because they know. One lady said it changed her budget for groceries by 75%,” Dunn added.
Volunteers of all ages have been coming out to help, and Dunn said they have become like a family.
“We have some single dads and, when they come, they bring their kids, and then they have these little rugrats running around. and it’s so. much fun with them. And then the people become like their aunties and uncles. And oh yeah, how's school going and what's happening? And they do things for them for their birthdays. It's just been pretty fun to see that.”
Over the last six months of 2021, the Loaves and Fishes/FoodMesh program managed to get 61,294 Lbs of food recovered, which equals 46,814 meals provided, and a $160,104 value.
In the fall of 2021, a used 2005 Dodge van was purchased to do pickup and delivery of groceries. The main costs have been the purchase of additional food products needed especially meat, purchase and maintenance of the van and other equipment such as freezers and a commercial dehydrator.
The program is always looking for more people to be aware of the program if they are in need of it.
“We are always looking for people to be aware of people that are being missed. We can't be everywhere, so anything that brings awareness, we are just right on it, that's what we need,” Dunn said.
The program knows that as awareness of Loaves and Fishes/ FoodMesh increases, there will be a need to expand in all areas to meet it.