Posted by Nick Aroutzidis on Feb 03, 2019
February 7 2019: Hope Reidt, “Wightman Telecom”, Jim Young will introduce, and Walter Bathe will give thanks. 

Head Table:  Our President Paul Roulston, invites, Jim Young, Gord steed, Fritz Steigmeier, Rhonda Lee Stephenson- Read, Debra Swan, Doug Thompson and Rheo Thompson, to join him at the head table.

Today at Rotary:  For many years, communities have supported food banks as places for those in need to could obtain food on a fairly regular basis.  The template for most food banks, first established in the US in 1967, is the "front line" model, giving out food directly to the hungry. Others operate on the "warehouse" model, supplying food to intermediaries like food pantries, soup kitchens and other front-line organizations. Much of the food was prepackaged and therefore not achieving desirable levels of nutrition.
In 2012, Stratford was chosen to be the rural pilot for a new concept – which had the belief in “food with dignity” at its core and introduced the notion of fostering “food security” in other words “seeds to plate”.  Under the initial auspices of the United Way, and known as the “Local”, it is a central food depot which has the capacity to collect, warehouse and distribute fresh healthy food on a weekly basis by partnering with local suppliers (i.e farmers).  The Local has worked hard to establish relations with the six food banks operating in Stratford to provide them with low-cost fresh food to enhance what they offer their client.
Debra Swan, a member of our Club and also the ED of The Local, expanded on the programmes that have developed since the founding – community meals, cooking classes for adults and children, community gardens for those keen to grow their own fresh produce, an after-school programme for kids to learn about healthy eating, cooking skills and social justice, and a time for newcomers to Canada to meet over a meal which focuses on and is prepared by people of differing cultures.
Three times a week, The Local offers a community meal – Monday dinner, Wednesday lunch for seniors (which also includes a time for exercise and a relevant talk) and Thursday breakfast.  No “means test” is applied and about 75% of those attending are marginalized people who come together as strangers at first and then often become friends and build a sense of neighbourhood.   That many of those who attend the meals and the education programmes offer their services as volunteers at The Local is very encouraging.
The newest project is the establishment of a community access market held twice a week and set up like a farmers’ market.  All the produce is locally sourced and offered at affordable prices.  The goal in all this is to encourage people to eat healthily and regularly which, it has been repeatedly proven significantly reduces chronic disease, strengthens immune systems and improves physical fitness. 
Rotary has been involved with The Local for many years through an annual financial donation of $12,000 to enable them to buy local food produce and distribute to the food banks throughout our community.  In addition, our first run with Cath the Ace allotted $4,000 from the proceeds to The Locals programmes.
Ms Swan spoke of her appreciation for Rotary’s ongoing support of The Local and that cooperation and partnerships always make a community more compassionate, inclusive and successful.
Scribe: Colonel Chadsey
Guests: Today we welcomed Kel Pero and Amy Mullock 
Draw: A gift certificate for McDonalds and Tim’s donated by an anonymous Rotarian and the winner was Robert Ritz
Make-ups: No report. 
February’s Attendance Committee: Shawn Malvern (I/C), Ryan Erb, Rick Orr, Dan Kane, Wendy Anderson, Debra Swan, Michael Fox, Clare McCallum, Heidi Culliton.