HARBOUR GRACE, NL — A new program from the SPLASH Centre in Harbour Grace aims to help youth access food and personal hygiene products.
The Pantry Project was officially launched earlier this month and has already attracted donations from people locally in the form of cash, food and personal hygiene products like toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and even diapers for young families.
Executive director Maggie Snow has been thinking about food security for at least the past year, knowing for a fact there were youth making use of the centre who were at times going hungry. She's optimistic the new project can make a difference in their lives.
"Word of mouth, I know there is a high demand for it, and I know that our food banks are struggling, so this in no way trying to step on those toes or duplicate the services, but we believe in a no-wrong-door approach … It's just an addition to the services that are already in the community, and we're just hoping our youth will avail of it, or any youth in any community can come and avail of it."
Snow hopes that by targeting a basic need such as hunger, youth can then confidently tackle secondary needs, such as education and employment.
"If they have full bellies and clean bodies, then they can go out and thrive," she said. "And if they're hungry, there are so many health risks that come with that, so they can't be the best that they can be if they're not meeting their basic needs."
Community support in the early going has been strong thus far, according to Snow, who is excited to see how the project progresses.
"It's new, so we'll see what demand is like and how our supply can sustain itself, but we're hoping that whoever needs it will avail of it."
The pantry will serve youth ages 12-29 and be open for pick-ups on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon and 6-8 p.m. Deliveries may also be scheduled if needed, when possible. Donations can be dropped off at the Splash Centre during regular operating hours.