Late in the evening on Earth Day (April 22), staff at École Bonnycastle School received a call from Second Harvest food rescue asking if they would be able to safely distribute 12 pallets of fresh produce to the community. Bonnycastle staff quickly reached out to Arthur A Leach and Chancellor Schools, and by the next morning, the community was in motion to ensure the food would not be wasted.
“In my 22 years of teaching I have never been so moved,” said Tytanya Fillion, teacher at École Bonnycastle School. “We contacted families, shared through our Twitter and our PAC reach out through their social media. Even the neighbourhood Facebook group ran with it to spread the word.”
The pallets of berries, peppers and green beans, were divided among the three schools for distribution. PAC members, school staff, parents and even retired teachers dropped their Friday plans and gave up their prep time to assemble care packages using donated reusable bags and distribute them in the community.
Judy Farrell, principal at Chancellor School, was impressed at the collective effort.
“Many staff commented on how beautiful it was to see our staff, students and families come together to rescue this wonderful food,” Farrell shared. “Parents were very happy to receive the donations and many called the school to thank us for bring this resource to them.”
Back at Bonnycastle, more than 200 family and community members stopped by, following social distancing guidelines. The spontaneous 5-hour event that combined the “Bonnycastle Boutique” (outdoor clothing, boots and shoes) with their “Little Free Pantry,” thanks to this bounty. Fillion shared that by the end of the day, they were down to just a few boxes of red peppers, and even these brought joy:
“One mom started to cry tears of joy,” Fillion said. “She shared that [she and her family] are celebrating Ramadan. There is a very special traditional red pepper soup that she was now able to prepare for her family. The mom quickly told some other parents from our school community who came to get some peppers. It was such a special moment that I will never forget.”
Pembina Trails is proud of the hearts and hands of these three schools, who rallied on such short notice to carry out the distribution even within pandemic restrictions.
Second Harvest makes it their mission to recover fresh, unsold food to protect the environment and provide immediate hunger relief. According to the website, 58 percent of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted, while 1 in 7 Canadian families experience food insecurity. More information on food rescue and how to get involved can be found here.