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Volunteer organization in Almonte, Ont. sets up food pantry to fill rising need for food bank

To-go meals being provided by the new pantry at the Almonte Presbyterian Church. Feb. 22, 2022 (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa) To-go meals being provided by the new pantry at the Almonte Presbyterian Church. Feb. 22, 2022 (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)
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A volunteer organization in Almonte, Ont. is going to great lengths to provide food for those in the community who need it most.

On Feb. 14, A Meal For All opened its new community food pantry located in the Almonte Public Library.

The pantry is filled with dry goods, pet food and hygiene products available for anyone to take.

"This is a very safe space," said Ingrid Kadoke, a volunteer with A Meal For All.

"They can come here discreetly, there's a few bags in the bottom, they can help themselves to what they need and nobody will stop them."

The organization set up the pantry to fill the need of a food bank in the Almonte community. Currently, the closest food bank is The Hunger Stop, located in Carleton Place about 10 kilometres away.

"It takes quite a lot of courage to go to the food bank for some people," said Kadoke. Here in this community, people can walk here."

"The library is sort of the heart of the community. It is open seven days a week, there's no entrance fee, there's nothing you have to do, you just come in."

A Meal For All has also been hosting a free community breakfast every Thursday at the Almonte Presbyterian Church.

The free breakfast takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and is open to anyone.

Kadoke says the meals support an average of about 50 people each Thursday.

"I don't know if the need is so much financial support, I think it is, but also social support that we can all be together," Kadoke said.

Local mother Alexandra Dupis brings her four children to the breakfast most Thursdays, allowing her to save on her grocery bill while also socializing with her community.

"As we know, the cost of living has gone up in Ontario. So at least once a week I can look forward to saving about $50," Dupis tells CTV News.

"Eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, it all adds up. Coffee and tea are available here as well."

Also available at the free breakfast are to-go meals, pre-packaged and available for anyone to take home free of charge.

"It's breakfast or lunch, it's enough for a meal, gives you all the ingredients and anybody can come in and take it, just as a supplement for your weekly groceries," said Lynn Younghusband, a volunteer at the Lanark County Food Bank.

"This provides people a means, another way to get food, healthy food and still manage their monthly budgets, and still be able to do things in life that they enjoy."

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