The Barrie Community Fridge is a new food charity program in Barrie that launched on March 26, 2021. Located at 9 Churchill Drive in Barrie's south end, members of our community can donate food by dropping it off and leaving it on the shelves in their jumbo fridge. Anyone who needs food can come in and take whatever they need, no questions asked - the door is always open.
This is a really great concept because it allows people to bypass a lot of the yellow tape that currently prevents low-income families from getting access to food. What's even more interesting is that this program was started by a 23-year-old Ryerson University student, Ayanna Cabrera, who grew up here in Barrie. Wow. Way to take initiative Ayanna!
Ayanna was able to get ahold of a fridge for the project, which was donated by 'Chill Out', a cooler and freezer rental company based in Bradford, that allows companies and individuals to rent out 'Chill Out Trailers' for their business or event needs. Local Leaf Farms has also provided a space for the fridge, on-site, and together, these three organizations have come together and provided one more option for people of limited means to have their basic human needs met.
Ayanna says they're not allowed to have one on City of Barrie property, so they're also looking to businesses and people who want to help with a little piece of property - specifically in the downtown Barrie area because that's where homelessness and poverty is being felt the most.
Food Crisis Continues to Rise
Due to the pandemic's lockdowns, jobs are being lost altogether, while others are having their hours cut in half. And if you work in the restaurant industry, there are now massive limitations on the number of customers that can be in the building. This means they are receiving significantly fewer tips, yet still being paid significantly less than minimum wage... and minimum wage doesn't allow you to eat three meals a day as it is - this is why places like the Food Bank existed before the Pandemic. The number of people whose lives are being tormented by the lockdowns is astronomical and what happens when these restaurant-careers were their only form of making a living over the last 10 years? How are they supposed to break into a new industry when ALL their experience is in one that no longer pays enough to eat... let alone allows them to afford rent and car insurance?
The idea that these people need to "fix their problems" themselves is far from realistic. If the law allows minimum wage to stay the way it is, then they cannot. If companies aren't willing to hire people without industry experience, then these people cannot help themselves. So as a community, we need to come together and help those in our very own backyards. We need to help our neighbours and we need to start doing it now.