When Saskatoon resident Kirby Criddle noticed a man going through recycling bins in the alley behind her house in an effort to find food, she realized something had to be done in her beloved Buena Vista neighborhood.
Criddle, along with friends Connor Powell and Frank Collins, decided to start the Freedom Food project in an effort to help those who are struggling to afford basic necessities.
The trio first introduced two free food boxes to Saskatoon in September with the idea that people could leave non-perishable food items and toiletries in the boxes, with the items easily accessible by those in need. As of yesterday, the two boxes have grown to four boxes placed (and eight more to go) around Saskatoon.
Criddle told CBC that the response from people leaving items in the boxes as well as those utilizing the goods has been overwhelming.
“It’s kind of one small step in a long journey of healing an entire community,” said Criddle. “It brings people together. It gets us thinking about taking care of each other, how to take care of each other.”
Criddle found that when she approached people looking for food in garbage bins, the response towards her was fear, an indication that issues around food inadequacies among locals are often met with hostility. Wanting to create a safe space for those in need, Criddle’s Free Food Boxes enable people to access items with dignity.
The Freedom Fooders, a group of volunteers who donate their labour and materials to build boxes, have no plans on stopping anytime soon. The group is analyzing data provided by the city and reaching out to Saskatoon residents on their Facebook page to determine where the greatest need is for more boxes.
In addition to placing items in the boxes, the Freedom Fooders are also looking to the community for volunteers to oversee specific boxes, ensuring they’re filled and aren’t vandalized. For more information on this inspiring project, check out the Freedom Fooders Facebook page.