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Peak demand for Church Out Serving’s vegetables

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Monte Sonnenberg Church Out Serving reports a bumper harvest from an excellent year in which fresh, healthy vegetables were distributed to local needy individuals and households.  Volunteers who make this possible include, from left, Virginia Lucas, Al Froese, Eric Haverkamp, ​​Bert Stam, and Tony Stam.  - Monte Sonnenberg Church Out Serving reports a bumper harvest from an excellent year in which fresh, healthy vegetables were distributed to local needy individuals and households. Volunteers who make this possible include, from left, Virginia Lucas, Al Froese, Eric Haverkamp, ​​Bert Stam, and Tony Stam. – Monte Sonnenberg

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Malnutrition is under the radar as an additional health consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Church Out Serving in Simcoe reports that the increasing demand for fresh vegetables from its ever-growing network of community gardens is due in part to pandemic lockdowns, job losses and fears of shopping in public places where the coronavirus could circulate.

“It’s a variety of things,” said Eric Haverkamp of Simcoe, chairman of the Church Out Serving Board of Directors.

“There are some job losses and people can no longer work as they used to. Some really suffer from it.

“That is the purpose of our beds – to help those who do not have access to healthy food.”

Church Out Serving’s Gathering Food Gardens program began five years ago. Since then it has grown to 22 beds in five locations. The production this year includes beans, peppers, garlic, onions, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, beets, kale, cabbage, carrots and pumpkin.

Haverkamp estimates the demand for Church Out Serving’s fresh and frozen dinners and grocery baskets has quadrupled since the global pandemic was declared in March 2020, late in the year.

Church Out Serving looks forward to further growth. The group’s Riversyde 83 “Foodhub” in downtown Simcoe will soon be operational and fully functional. If this happens, on-site programming and ongoing community outreach promise to accelerate even further, Haverkamp said.

Church Out Serving’s community gardens are located in the Evergreen Heights Christian Fellowship, Calvary Pentecostal Church, Good Humor-Breyers Ice Cream Factory, Old Windham United Church and the Indwell apartment complex in the former Hambleton Hall on John Street.

Community gardening program sponsors include Eising Greenhouse and Garden Center, Meadow Lynn Market Garden, Great Lakes Excavation, Shabatura Produce, Stokes Seeds, Stripe Art, Scotts Canada, Rona, and Gintec Shade Technologies.

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