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Youth Engagement for Newmarket Food Pantry

The Newmarket Food Pantry has seen a significant increase in the number of clients who use emergency food supplies, but also decrease in the overall donations - both in food as well as financial. The average age of Food Pantry volunteers is more than 68 years old. Two primary challenges are (1) get more youth engaged with volunteering with the Food Bank and to increase their awareness of the needs within the community, and (2) developing an online presence through a web site and social media channels, allowing more members of the community to be aware of the Food Pantry, become involved as volunteers, and to send out alerts with specific priority needs. (This past year, the Food Pantry had no stock of peanut butter, a major staple, and had to use scarce financial resources to purchase additional supplies).

The Food Pantry will partner with One Million Acts of Innovation, an organization that brings qualified post-secondary students from Seneca and UoIT to the community, to run a series of social media strategy development and how-to workshops for local youth; participants would work on developing a creative and sustainable online presence for the Food Pantry, and be directly involved in the ongoing maintenance of the sites. The sessions would include the development of a crowdfunding strategy. Calls for youth volunteers would be made through community stakeholders, including the Youth Centre, Neighbourhood Network, schools and library.

Community Youth - get an education & hands-on experience with social medial and current technologies; skills they can apply

Post-secondary students - get experience and references for their resume

Food Bank - gets online presence they could not do on their own, or afford to contract for; increased pool of volunteers; higher community awareness, more revenues

A community Launch Event would be held in March 2013, profiling youth volunteers, highlighting youth talent (drumming, flash mob dancing, song), tours of Food Pantry

Funded by Newmarket, ON (January 2013)