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International agency comes to aid of French River Food Bank

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Hero welcomes for first responders don’t get much better than the one French River Fire Chief Roch Bigras received as he returned home on Wednesday to Noelville.

The community’s food bank was one of many chosen for aid by Global Medics and the David McAntony Foundation, as part of its Holiday Hustle initiative.

French River first responders were invited to the Etobicoke warehouse to pick up 4,000 pounds of food.

“It was a great adventure,” said Bigras.

“We were able to meet the volunteers with Global Medics down in Toronto and coming back it was great to be here, to be able to deliver the goods for the food bank.”

The support couldn’t have come at a better time for the facility. The need has dramatically increased. Volunteers are now serving upwards of 100 families at the same time that the facility saw a $45,000 cut in funding.

“I’ve been involved for a little over three years now, things have changed so drastically,” said food bank coordinator and town councillor Roger Landry.

“And when you have budget cuts and a food increase, sometimes it’s gotten a little worrisome.”

Landry said the shelves have never been this empty.

It’s a welcome gift ahead of the Holidays for many, including Mayor Gisèle Pageau who said it was a seasonal resident who got the whole thing started.

The French River food bank was one of many chosen for aid by Global Medics and the David McAntony Foundation, as part of its Holiday Hustle initiative. French River first responders were invited to the Etobicoke warehouse to pick up 4,000 pounds of food. (Photo from video)

“They led me to Global Medics and asked me if I had ever heard of them. I told her no and then one phone call after another, and all of a sudden we were connecting,” Pageau said.

“I thought, wow, this is amazing,’ because as a small community, we get forgotten or can’t access funding compared to larger, urban centres. And so for Global Medics to come through for us, it means a lot to our community.”

Grade 8 students from nearby Ecole St. Antoine, along with players from the French River Rapids and the NOJHL, were on hand to help unload the trucks and the food.

“The food bank is huge in our town -- they help out a lot of kids, a lot of people who are struggling with food,” said Rapids defenceman Abram Snider.

“So it’s a huge part of our community and every week we’re here helping out, helping them unload shipments or whatever it is. We help out a lot.”

Also on hand were members of the French River Lions Club, who donated $2,500, and Northline Industry Inc., who donated $1,000. 

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