By Demii Niles
“Nearly half, if not more of this community struggles to eat,” said Jane Kali, Director of Community Trust North Hastings.
Community Trust provides emergency financial assistance for people that struggle to meet their basic need in North Hastings. The non-profit organization looks at the long-term solution to poverty and ways to end hunger in the Bancroft area. Kali explained that the change to a more accessible location will better help her with the community and allow her to bring more people in.
“People come and want to be a part of what we do, we need to figure out ways we can have our basic needs met and… space opens up for folks to feel more creative and have more opportunities to actually be invested,” said Kali.
They have three programs running at Community Trust, one of the programs organized is Harvest of the North community gardens and that was introduced and launched in 2015 with the collaboration between the Bancroft and North Hastings communities. Community Trust really focuses on trying to find different ways to grow food together, to put food away, to cook together and to share food. Kali is currently working with community cupboard on figuring out a way to learn how to stretch out the food that is there and bring more people into the process.
Harvest the North has a lot of garden beds throughout town and a lot of people that have offered and donated land in the area to help grow fruits and vegetables. They are hoping to extend their growing season so they can grow in the winter using aquaponics, using farmed fish or other aquatic animals to supply nutrients for plants grown hydroponically. People have come in and offered to help with various supplies such as equipment, furniture, etc.
Community Trust operates on a very low budget, United Way Hastings and Prince Edward helps out with salaries and admin, donating just over just over $36,000 this year. They also receive some funds from Hastings County for emergencies and other funding is received through the community.
“I really think it is important to keep people engaged, we need to move away from this service model where I’m at one part of the desk and you’re at the other. We are working really hard to break that down.”
Another thing Community Trust helps with is advocacy. Meaning they advocate for the people in the community about rising issues. For an example, the water rates in Bancroft have increased by a significant amount and Community Trust along with members of the community are currently negotiating with the provincial government to take responsibility. Kali said doing this is one of their key advocacy pieces at the moment, as well as individual advocacy for people.
United Way is their main core of funding and support she said. United Way Hastings & Prince Edward helped create a mission statement and vision to help with sustainability and now Community Trust North Hastings’ vision incorporates sustainable grassroots solutions.
“There’s actually no industry here and there are very little jobs,” said Kali. “United Way (Hastings and Prince Edward) is amazing, they came here and met with us and we had a really good time. They were able to help us come up with our mission and vision statement pretty quickly and there were tonnes of supports around that.”
Demii Niles is an intern at United Way Hastings & Prince Edward from the Loyalist College Journalism Program. She lives an active lifestyle keeps engaged with the community and on her own time writes and helps people when she can.