It’s easy to overlook, a small shed tucked away on the side of the public parking lot on Enderby’s Maud Street. You may think it houses garden tools or provides storage.
But the reality is that within those four walls, there’s hope, compassion, dignity and community.
“It’s an amazing story,” says Mary Anne Domarchuk, a public health nurse with the Interior Health Authority.
The concept of the Harvest Sharing Hut began a few years ago when the Enderby and District Community Resource Centre determined that many residents were going hungry. From there, an array of groups banded together and formed the Food Action Committee for Today’s Tomorrow in 2012. While there were some initial actions to tackle food security, things really took off when the shed was purchased earlier this year and the doors were officially opened wide June 29.
The goal of the Harvest Sharing Hut has been to link farmers and residents with excess fruit and vegetables with those in need.
The response has been overwhelming.
An average of 78 people a week were served every Monday between June 29 and early October.
About 3,386 kilograms or 3.72 tonnes of produce was handed out.
“That’s slightly smaller than an adult African elephant,” said Domarchuk.
On average, 225 kilograms of fruits and vegetables were donated, including from vendors from the weekly farmers market, who may have typically just taken any produce that didn’t sell and diverted it to compost.
“The purpose of the hut was to feed people but also to make sure food doesn’t go to waste. A lot of food goes to waste,” said Domarchuk.
The scope of hunger in our communities doesn’t really hit home until you look at the statistics.
Within the few months that the Harvest Sharing Hut was open, 42 adults on average received assistance a week, as well as 18 children and 18 seniors. They could be our neighbours, our co-workers or our grandparents. They could be us.
No judgement calls were made as to why they needed food, although it’s no secret that high rents, a rising cost of living and a lack of meaningful employment is creating significant challenges for many in the North Okanagan.
Admitting you need help isn’t an easy thing to do, but those who visited the Harvest Sharing Hut were able to hold their heads high thanks to the dedicated volunteers on site.
“We’ve been making connections with people,” says Domarchuk.
“There’s been lots of community and recognizing each other, being able to say hello on the street.”
This form of outreach should come as no surprise as Enderby and area residents have a reputation of pulling together. One just has to remember the steady stream of people who offered to dry sleeping bags when thousands of visiting Guides were slammed by a storm two years ago.
And Enderby is preparing to shine again as agencies rally behind the local food bank, which is undergoing a transition.
“We need to keep something in place and we will because that’s the kind of community we are,” said Mayor Greg McCune.
Keep up the good work Enderby.