It’s been a busy year for the Agape Centre as operations start to return to normal after the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, by normal I mean the ‘new normal’. In the aftermath of the pandemic, more and more people in our community are accessing Agape’s services.
In the month of March 2020, leading into the pandemic, the food bank served 1,067 clients. In July 2022, they served 2,012 – almost double the amount they were serving two years prior.
One growing trend that’s being noticed is that more working families are accessing Agape’s services.
It can be hard to make ends meet when rent is $1,500-$2,000 a month, you have kids to clothe and feed and you need to maintain a vehicle to get to and from work. People are scared to get evicted, so they make sure their rent and utilities are paid, but this leaves little to no money at the end of the month for food.
It’s not any easier for single individuals on fixed incomes. A single person on ODSP makes $1,169 per month. A single person on Ontario Works, only $733 per month. These people can hardly afford the current prices of rent let alone anything else.
What does this mean for the Agape Center?
Right now, they’re processing approximately 30-40 new referrals every month… that’s up to 100 new people to feed each month!
“We receive no funding; we raise all our own money,” explains Lisa Duprau, Agape Centre’s executive director, “We have a fabulous community that supports us consistently, year-round, but I think our governments need to be aware of what’s going on and step up.”
“We need funding,” she adds, “If we didn’t have local grocery stores and Walmart that support us, our shelves would not be stocked.”
In the meantime, the Agape Centre is involved in several important partnerships.
These partnerships help bring in the money needed to keep the food insecure in our community from going hungry. They also bring important resources to those that need them the most.
Furniture Partners, located at 327 Montreal Road, is a partnership between the Agape Centre and Habitat for Humanity. The store carries used furniture that’s not in good enough shape to be sold at ReStore or New for You, but still has a lot of life left to it. The furniture is reasonably priced with a range of items from antique pieces to inexpensive options that are great for students or young families on a budget. The proceeds from Furniture Partners are split 50-50 between the Agape Centre and Habitat for Humanity. They also split expenses equally and each organization has a full-time staff member and a volunteer working at the store. The store opened in March 2022 and is 6 months into a 1-year trial at the current location.
A partnership with Diabetes Canada allows the Agape Center to benefit from donated items that don’t make it to the thrift store, like clothes with holes or missing buttons. In this program, fabric items are bagged up, weighed, and paid for by the pound. In turn, Diabetes Canada sells these fabrics to companies that downcycle them into items like rags and insulation.
On Saturday, August 20, 2022, the Agape Centre hosted their first free bike repair clinic in partnership with Kanata Baptist Church. The program, run by teens and young adults, is called Chain Reaction and has been running since 2005. This group bikes though Eastern Ontario and stops in different locations to do bike clinics, all while all carrying their tools with them. Anyone in the community was welcome to attend, and a total of approximately 34 bikes were fixed. The group even did an e-scooter tune up!
This summer, the Agape Centre partnered with students from La Citadelle to build a community garden that is open to anyone in the community. Students built garden boxes with lumber supplied by the Centre. A grant from Commonwealth Insurance helped pay for more garden boxes and a nice sign for the garden.
Another cool partnership is with the Recovery Care Unit, which parks at the Agape Centre on Fridays. They offer free services like basic nursing care, wound care, diabetic supplies, and some addiction services.
For the second year in a row, a $3,500 grant from Intact Insurance and Paquette Insurance Broker Inc. will help keep feed students through the Feeding our Future lunch program. The money from this program helps add school snacks, juice, etc. to the food hampers of clients with school aged children.
Updates and What‘s Coming:
The dining room at the Agape Centre reopened in May. Lunch is served between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm but people are welcome to drop-in and hang out any time between 10 am and 3 pm.
After scaling back their hours during the pandemic, the New for You thrift store is once again open on Saturdays from 9:30 to 3:30.
The Agape Centre now has a community fridge! This fridge is kept stocked after hours with items like canned goods, fruits and vegetables, and granola bars, for people who need food when the Centre is closed. The fridge was generously donated by the Kinsmen Club. Richard Picard designed and built the shelter that keeps it covered using supplies donated by BMR.
Moving forward, the Agape Centre plans to host community suppers once a month with the help of local service clubs. They’re also hoping to book regular guest speakers to update their clientele on services that are available in our community.
Another thing clients of the Agape Centre can soon expect are more options for different dietary needs.
This includes options that are culturally diverse, such as halal, different types of flower and varieties of rice. The Agape Centre also plans to stock their shelves with options for individuals with diabetes, lactose, or gluten intolerance, etc.
September is Hunger Action Month: Become a Hunger Champion!
From the 19th to the 23rd the Agape Centre will be hosting their Hunger Awareness Challenge.
During this challenge, ‘Hunger Champions’ collect pledges for the Agape Centre and only eat items chosen from the food bank. There is a daily question posted on the Agape Center Facebook page to answer as part of the challenge.
“I’ve done it a couple times, and I’m going to do it again this year. It certainly gives you a close-up view of what its like to only survive on what you get from the food bank,” says Duprau, “If you’re living on a fixed income with no extra money after paying for rent and utilities, you have no other option than to get your food at the food bank. That’s reality for a lot of people in our community.”
If you would like to participate, contact Lisa Duprau at 613-938-9297 ext. 127 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.