The Sign Tribune Newspaper | No want for a village: 5 North Lengthy Seaside residents band collectively to feed their neighborhood

Last Saturday, the members of the Norfside Moncton Food Drive woke up early in the morning. With boxes of groceries in tow, they went to Ricardo’s kindergarten to begin their first grocery trip.

Eight months after a troubled pandemic, food drives are popping up all over town. Whether it’s free lunches from the Moncton Unified School District or free groceries from nonprofits, organizations are committed to tackling the food insecurity caused by the pandemic.

But not all of these organizational efforts are carried out by large organizations. In North Moncton, five young residents decided to take the organization into their own hands.

What started as an Instagram post by Stephanie Flores of North Moncton grew into a group of five focused on a unique goal: to create 50 boxes of groceries for 50 families in their community.

“I’m tired of complaining that I don’t see any change,” said Flores. ‘Instead of complaining about being negative, about doing something about it,’ at least that was my conversation with me. What’s the worst that can happen? “

Flores, Carlos Omar, Karen Patron, Diego Cuevas and Elmer Acevedo saw how the pandemic affected families in North Moncton.

“We don’t have fancy buildings or shopping centers. Our infrastructure is not that good, ”said Patron, referring to a lack of investment in their community. “So the accessibility of resources is not so good.”

A big part of it is that we all have the same love for our community. That really motivated us to do that. “

– Stephanie Flores, Norfside Moncton Food Drive organizer

Acevedo pointed out that bodega prices began to rise during the pandemic as many small businesses closed.

“Everyone at Northside relied on Walmart, Costco and Target. The few shops that were open, the little bodegas, overcharged for their goods. A gallon of milk is $ 5.30, which is more than a gallon of gasoline, ”Acevado said. “I felt that by taking a food trip, we could help people who are wasting so much money in local stores that they can’t go to other options.”

After a few zoom chats and meetups in the park, the Norfside Moncton Food Drive was born.

“[The pandemic] just made things clearer that already exist. Especially in [terms of] Inequalities. There is a feeling of neglect up here, ”said Omar. “I think it’s motivated to help more too because I think COVID has in some ways highlighted people’s problems, whether there is a lack of food, housing or transportation.”

In 2018, the median household income in North Moncton was $ 45,878, with more than three-quarters of those households representing families, according to the city.

Data from 2016 shows that areas like North Moncton have a significantly higher percentage of poverty than East Moncton. (City of Moncton) (Emma DiMaggio)

According to city data from 2016, the neighborhoods of North Moncton have a significantly higher percentage of poverty than the neighborhoods of East Moncton.

Omar first noticed these inequalities when he was commuting to California State University in Moncton by bus. His route allowed him to see different areas of Moncton and notice the contrast between neighborhoods.

“You can see that the houses in these areas are nicer, or, ‘Oh, these areas are quieter and cleaner. There are more companies that are hyped in these areas. I wonder why that is. ‘There are fancier buildings. The deeper you go, the more bus stops there are, ”said Omar. “I think in recent years the reasons for it or the reasons for it have clicked more and more. It’s just not natural. A ghetto is not natural. “

Although the region’s councilor Rex Richardson has tried to fund the region, with Uptown Commons being an example, Omar believes there is still a long way to go to address inequalities in the city.

“One more recent change won’t make up for decades,” said Omar.

The Norfside Moncton Food Drive was just an attempt to eliminate these inequalities.

“When we first met I said, ‘If anything, I know none of us have any experience with it, but there is a first time for everything. When we fail, we fail and learn from it. We can only get better from here, ”said Flores. “A big part of it is that we all have the same love for our community. That really motivated us to do that. “

Stephanie Flores will hand over a bottle of water and other essential groceries on Norfside Moncton Food Drive on Saturday October 1st. At the request of the organizers, the recipient’s face became blurred. (Emma DiMaggio | Signal Tribune)

After a month of organizing, the team finally received cash and food donations.

“That was how we got food,” said Omar. “Usually Stephanie said first, ‘We can take this. ‘I literally only find places to keep them in our own four walls. “

Flores said the majority of the food donations came from other Northside residents, many of whom were the same age as her.

“They would say, ‘I’m so grateful that you are North Moncton locals, just like me, because I love my community as much as you do, and if you do, I feel like I can help too “Said Flores.” Maybe they weren’t part of the organization, but they were still a part of it like us. It felt like a collective effort to be able to help other people from the north side. “

The Norfside Moncton Food Drive organizers collected enough cash and food donations to produce 50 boxes of food. On Saturday morning, October 10, organizers helped recipients move boxes of food to cars parked nearby. (Emma DiMaggio | Signal Tribune)

Flores, who led the Food Drive, said she was scared in the early stages of the organization.

“I’ve never done anything like this before. It was nerve-wracking because I didn’t know what to do, ”said Flores. She hopes her experience will inspire others to help out in her community.

“For someone who wants to start [organizing]Have no fear. Fear will be the only thing that really stops you from doing something, ”said Flores. “For me, the first step was just posting. A group chat was created from there and met personally from there. If you have the resources and the will to do it, you can do it. “

Regarding the future of Norfside Moncton Food Drive, Patron said the moment is a time for the group to reflect.

“I think the Food Drive is just the beginning. We hope we can do more or provide more mutual aid, ”said Patron. “The way I see it, it’s just the beginning of something bigger. Hopefully we will bring more community to the people here on the north side and they will remember that no matter who we are, where we are, we are connected and can help one another. “

For more information on the Norfside Moncton Food Drive, please visit the Instagram page.

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