Dwight Winter Pantry will provide seasonal relief to residents in need

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Main photo: Planner Scott Wilson and Planning Technician Lena Craymer at Marie Poirier Planning and Associates in Dwight sort food that has been donated to the Dwight Winter Pantry during the Cottage Closing Food Drive (supplied)

After realizing that the need for food in Muskoka is much greater than what is visible, Marie Poirier was inspired by Baysville’s Winter Pantry to start a similar initiative in Dwight.

“Dwight really needed a force here. Huntsville has lots of great initiatives but if individuals can’t afford food for their family then they most likely don’t have a car to get to Huntsville,” said Poirier.

The Dwight Winter Pantry committee—which comprises Poirier, Linda Boothby (Dwight Garden Centre), Karen Piovaty (Oxtongue Craft Cabin), Capt. Matt Young (Station 20 Firefighters), Nancy Tapley (Bondi Village Resort), and Tanya Grainger (Ericka’s Coffee Shop)—has begun collecting food and cash donations for the program. A storage and distribution location for the Pantry hasn’t been determined yet.

“As we are in a tourist area, business is much better in the summer, so winter was when we thought this program was most needed. Seasonal residents are closing up so rather than waste their food, they can donate it,” said Poirier.

Local businesses have run the Cottage Closing Food Drive in the past, with donations then delivered to Huntsville-area food banks, but Poirier wanted to created a program that would directly service people in need in Dwight throughout the winter.

“I understand the challenges of feeding a family or even oneself especially in winter, when the cost of living goes up and employment opportunities go down,” said Poirier. “At this point in my life I am in a position to try and make sure that no one will go hungry this winter in my community.”

Donation bins are located at Poirier’s office, Marie Poirier Planning & Associates, Dwight Garden Centre, the Dwight Public Library, Ericka’s Coffee Shop and the Oxtongue Craft Cabin. They hope to expand to other locations as well.

“I have a great support team. Dwight is a community that really comes together when a need arises and I have experienced that from other fundraising projects such as for our fire and rescue boat,” said Poirier.

It is anticipated that the Pantry, once up and running (mid-December through March or longer if needed), will be open for a portion of a day twice a month. Individuals can pick up the food that they need to tide them over, no questions asked.

Irwin Memorial Public School will be helping out with the Pantry as will several other local organizations including the H.O.L.D. (Hillside, Oxtongue Lake, Dwight) community group.

Poirier says she is already very grateful for the donations so far and hopes that this will be a long-term initiative in the Dwight area.

Anyone with donations or needing food can contact Poirier at [email protected] or 705-635-9860.

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