Our project was to prepare and give out Food Packs for the people who attend our Thursday Community Lunch at James Bay United Church. I was inspired by the success of the lunch which has grown since our start on December 1, 2022. We have a solid group of 17 volunteers as well as the support of the congregation so I knew that we could do this quite easily. Most of our guests cannot go to the Food Bank due to their disabilities as well as the fact that about one-third are unhoused. The Food Bags would be a special gift to each of them.

Several groups of people participated in our project. Eight volunteers planned it, ten prepared the 45 gift packs and many people from the church congregation donated the list of food items that we gave out at the service. On December 14 and 21 about fifty guests at the lunch were given the Food Packs including people living outside in Irving Park nearby. Our church newsletter contained photos and a write-up of the project and announcements were made at the service. This created awareness about Food Insecurity and Housing in James Bay. We thanked everyone at church at the end of the service and received huge applause.

Our church board and congregants are very supportive and proud of this project and the ongoing Community Lunch. We will build on our good reputation with updates and regular reports. Lunch guests were very appreciative and we noticed more easy conversation and smiling faces.

I learned the importance of involving the congregation in helping, and how such an event can increase trust and credibility. Ten volunteers showed up the day before to wrap 45 gift packs and completed the task in 2.5 hours. I learned to trust that people will come through when they are needed and included in the process. I also learned how to order groceries online.
People want to help and the clearer and simpler you communicate your needs the more likely they will be met. We made a list of 6 food items we needed and handed this out to people at church. We were overjoyed to receive two huge bins overflowing with donations.

The Three Best Things:
– Ten volunteers worked together and had fun preparing the food packs.
– Seeing the faces of guests taking their food packs.
– The moral support and follow-through from the congregation.

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