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Food Relief Network, previously Food Share, coming back to West Parry Sound area

A food relief program that ran for over two decades in our area is getting revived.

The Food Relief Network is re-launching on Monday after its predecessor closed up shop last May. Krista Holmes, a member of the program’s Executive Committee, says she cannot take credit for the network. She says the program ran for 26 years in Parry Sound, originally called Food Share, and was started by a wonderful group of ladies out of a church and operated before Harvest Share existed.

Holmes says when Food Share ended up folding there was a gap in service. She says it was evident to her after the Turkeys for Tummies event that the Network did this past October that there was still such a need in the community for similar food relief programs.

“So I reached out to the Facebook gods and put it out there that I wanted to revive the program and modernize it a little bit and within about two or three days I had a wonderful group of nine other ladies. We decided to rename it Food Relief Network to encompass a little bit more of the networking component and a bit more of the community portion,” she says.

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Holmes says they are a grassroots organization that provides groceries to individuals and families in need who have experienced a crisis or life-changing event. She says their services are available by referral only via a community organization in the West Parry Sound area.

For example, she says an average family of four that was referred to them would have about four to five hundred dollars worth of groceries dropped at their doorstep.

Looking forward to the Food Relief Network’s first day on Monday, Holmes says the group could get that first referral on day one, or not get a referral for three weeks. Either way, she says they are ready.

“We’re only at the place now where we can take one family per week, back at the peak when Food Share operated they had a lot of teams and at one point they could take up to three families a week. So we’re not there yet but our goal is absolutely to continue to build,” Holmes says.

Holmes says the Network is meant for those who are going through life-changing and crisis moments like a house fire, leaving a shelter and moving into their own home, or coming out of the hospital after a two-year stay and basically starting their life over. She says it can also mean someone who is unemployed and the main breadwinner of their house had an accident and now they’re not able to work for six weeks.

“We will look at each one individually and of course if we’ve already fulfilled our one family that week, we will make sure that they know about all of the other options in our community and then the following week we can turn around and assist with our referral process,” she adds.

Holmes says the whole thing is volunteer-based. “Every single one of us is volunteering our time and let me tell you, we spend a lot of time putting it all together. All of the coolers that we’re going to be purchasing for the drop point when these items are dropped at people’s houses are going to be paid for with donations,” she says.

In addition, Holmes says the network is going to be looking for gift card donations because there are times when they get requests for diapers and formula which are relatively more expensive items. 

Holmes says they are always looking for new volunteers, adding the network is specifically looking for team members, drivers, and team captains. 

She says members have a commitment of picking up one item when they receive a text message from their captain. Drivers are tasked with delivering the items to the houses that could be as far as Britt or Mactier.  And finally, captains are the ones that receive the call from the coordinator and then would have to contact their team and assign who gets what grocery item. 

If anyone is interested in volunteering, donating, or learning more about the program, Holmes says they can contact her personally at (705-774-4114).

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