By Carolyn Purden
One Friday in early June, Ann Turner-Murphy was walking down the main street of
Lakefield, a village north of Peterborough, when a window display at Lakefield Pantry caught her eye. It contained three picture frames, but no pictures.
When she got closer, Ms. Turner-Murphy noticed that there were words inside the frames. In the centre frame, there was a description of the local foodbank, run from St. John the Baptist Anglican church. It gave information about donations, the days the foodbank is open and contact numbers for the church.
To the right of that was a framed statement from Archbishop Colin Johnson, challenging the government to provide an extra $100 a month healthy food supplement so families using the foodbank could enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables. To the left was the archbishop’s description of living on food from a foodbank for three days and how it affected him physically and psychologically.
Ms. Turner-Muphy’s reaction was one of astonishment. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, how did that get there?’” she says. She went into the store to talk to the owner, Jennie McKenzie, and found out the story behind the window display.
It turned out that one of Ms. McKenzie’s tenants, who lives above the store, creates Lakefield Pantry’s window displays. Laura Warren has also been a user of the local foodbank in the past.
She approached Ms. McKenzie and asked if she could put up a display about the foodbank, explaining that it was a good time to do it. Foodbank donations typically drop in the summer, and it would encourage people to make donations while they are clearing out cupboards before going away for the summer.
“I thought it was a fabulous idea,” Ms. McKenzie says. “I’ve been a supporter of the local foodbank for quite a long time and know that the need is constant.”
Ms. Warren was motivated to promote the foodbank’s needs because of her own experience when she used the foodbank last summer. She explains that while Lakefield gets a lot of summer visitors, they do not contribute to the foodbank, and with residents on vacation, supplies become sparse.
“More parents with kids show up (at the foodbank) in the summer,” Ms. Warren says, “and I felt really bad that I was there one day as a single person because there were only two apples per person, even if you were there with a child.”
As a result, she decided to economize so she did not have to use the foodbank. She adds that she is lucky that her mother, Jean, also helps her out a bit.
Ms. Warren and her mother, who is a soprano in St. John’s choir, were talking about the foodbank and her mother gave Laura a parish bulletin containing Archbishop Johnson’s message.
“I thought that would be perfect for the window,” Laura Warren says, and showed Ms. McKenzie Archbishop Johnson’s message. Ms. McKenzie is not an Anglican and until Ms. Warren showed her the article, she had not been aware of the archbishop’s experience.
“It really moves you when you read it,” she says. “It’s quite striking. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are — or no denomination — it’s a statement that applies to humanity.”
When she found out the story behind the window display, Ms. Turner-Murphy was pleased, but not surprised. “Jennie is well-known and well-liked in our community and always there to help,” she says. “And it’s wonderful to think of Archbishop Johnson reaching out to this small village,” she adds.
Ms. McKenzie hoped that her window display would raise the awareness of her community about how many people actually use the foodbank. In Lakefield, that usage is high. Each week in April, for example, the foodbank served an average of 62 adults and 47 children in 45 families.
Ms. McKenzie points out that foodbanks always get publicity at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. “There’s a definite need to keep reminding people that it’s a service that’s required every week, all year round, by a lot of people,” she says. “We can’t forget about it just when it’s not convenient for us.”
Lakefield Pantry serves about 100 customers a day and a lot of them commented on the window display. “Some were surprised at the archbishop’s statement and what he went through in his experience of trying to survive on foodbank food,” says Ms. McKenzie.
Some were not aware of how great the need was locally or did not know there was a foodbank in Lakefield. Others were aware of the foodbank and said they appreciated the effort to raise awareness.
Ms. McKenzie will change the window display for Canada Day, but she hopes to put part of the message back in the window periodically. “It will remind people every now and then, if they’re going grocery shopping or cleaning out their cupboards before they go away, now’s the time,” she says.
To lobby your MPP for the $100 healthy food supplement, see the diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy current activities page.