Last Friday, July 14th, the CDC Quinte team had the pleasure of taking a field trip to Kingston to visit three outstanding organizations that contribute to food security in Kingston and beyond: Lionhearts Inc., The Loving Spoonful, and Tony Deodato and Sons Limited. All blew us away with their amazing work. I’m going to take the next three weeks to share about each of these great organizations individually. This week, we’ll start with Lionhearts.
The slogan of Lionhearts Inc. is simple, “No Hunger, No Waste”, but their work is complex and multi-faceted - many programs, many volunteers, many moving parts. Operating in the community since 2014, this organization really shone through the pandemic and has stepped their game to a whole new level with the opening of the Community Food Redistribution Warehouse (CFRW) in Spring of 2022.
The CFRW is a collaborative project designed and executed by Lionhearts, Kingston Community Health Centres, the City of Kingston, and the United Way of Frontenac, Lennox & Addington. It is an intricately designed warehouse for collecting and redistributing large-scale donations – mainly food, but sometimes other items. Built with walk-in refrigeration and freezers, a loading dock, movable rolling tracks for packing boxes, a forklift, industrial garage doors to house a small fleet of vehicles, and more, this warehouse and the accessories that support it were designed with all details in mind.
Funded and supported by the aforementioned partners, fundraisers, donors and grants, Lionhearts Inc. oversees the operations of the warehouse, collecting and redistributing its donations to all partners across the City that serve community food. To be able to make the most use of this food, there are multiple programs that it serves.
Primarily, they are receiving large orders of whole or processed foods and redistributing them to other partners. They are also using this food to pack their “Weekend Food Box Program” – a bi-monthly food box that is delivered to families with students in their household that have been identified as food insecure. For the riper produce coming in, it was a good fit to also prepare food. Every day their chefs are preparing and delivering close to 3000 meals each week to local food providing agencies, shelters, regional food banks, and community-based programs.
Watching this hive of activity is really a sight to behold. Items in and out, flowing so smoothly and efficiently. The volunteers and staff on site are aglow with happiness and joy. Their work is hard and the hours are long, but they love what they do, they see the difference it makes, and they have found a way to build joy in a warehouse, creating a home for the “Lionhearted” to feel proud.
Outside of their food programs, Lionhearts Inc. operates the “Concession Street Centre”, an overnight shelter; “Project Cold War”, a program distributing coats, gloves, toques, scarves, sleeping bags and blankets; and a Vocational Training Program. They also operate “The Embassy” a live music café that offers free tickets to clients of other programs; “FAST 101” Fight Against Sex Trafficking – a direct outreach option for current and past victims and throughout the world; and the “Kingston Street Mission”.
The Lionhearts of Kingston are driven by a deep desire to see all people living with human dignity. As their website says, “there are many needs in our community and through multiple different programs that we are able to offer with the help of many partners, many lives have been impacted and we are one step closer to our goal of seeing no more hunger and no more waste in our communities.”
Hats off to you Lionhearts Inc. What an experience. You have inspired us and then some.Amanda Solmes is the Community Research Coordinator for the Community Development Council of Quinte. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.