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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

UHC - Hub of Opportunities hosts grand opening for Leamington Regional Food Hub

by Sylene Argent

After a lot of visioning and planning sessions, and hard work in putting a strategy in place, the UHC – Hub of Opportunities, formally known as the Unemployed Help Centre, hosted the official grand opening of its Leamington Regional Food Hub last Thursday.

  The event, hosted at its location at 459 Talbot Street West in Leamington, featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and remarks from local dignitaries, industry leaders, and representatives from the UHC. Event attendees were also offered facility tours and enjoyed a lunch that was prepared onsite.

  The Leamington Regional Food Hub will be used to address food recovery and insecurity. Produce that doesn’t quite make the grade for retail will be rescued from growers and farmers and stored at the site. The produce will then be shipped to food banks and northern Indigenous communities. Some of the food items will be frozen and used to prepare soup through the UHC’s Farm to Food program.  

  Through the Leamington Regional Food Hub, four-million pounds of food will be recovered per year, preparing 175,000 food hampers and providing two-million servings of soup to over 500,000 individuals across Ontario.

  “Many individuals in our own community, throughout Ontario, across Canada, and in Indigenous communities, do not have access to fresh, affordable food, and are unsure where their next meal will come from,” June Muir, CEO of UHC – Hub of Opportunities, said. “Here, we stand in a building, in the bustling agricultural community of Leamington, Ontario – the home to the largest concentration of greenhouse growers and farmers in North America. Healthy, nutritional meals for these individuals are at our fingertips.”

  The Leamington Regional Food Hub is located in close proximity to greenhouse and growers, which will save time and money, Muir said, as pickup loads full of produce can be unloaded quickly and efficiently.

  The Food Hub, “Not only recovers and redistributes food taken in from greenhouses, it is an innovative program that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and feeds those who are experiencing food insecurity,” Muir added. 

  Muir listed off the names of many who were instrumental in bringing the project forward. One of the individuals she highlighted was Vern Toews, a life-long farmer and Director for the Leamington Regional Food Hub, who she said was the visionary behind the idea and worked to make his vision a reality.

  Toews, she said, has had a life-long passion for food recovery and making it accessible to those in need across the province, in Indigenous communities, and across the nation.

  It was explained during the grand opening ceremony that the food redistribution program is possible because of the help of around 90 volunteers who have signed up to dedicate their time to help people in need they do not even know.

  Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald said the new Food Hub goes beyond making life better, it is about knowing those who are blessed with abundance need to share with those less fortunate.

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