Students from various high schools across Barrie are working together to tackle food insecurity.

Thanks to a $5,000 grant from United Way, students have built and filled food pantries around the city.

“Until I was invited into this project, I had no idea how bad it was. I believe it’s something like one in five homes struggle with food security,” says Barrie North Collegiate student Lucas Grieve.

Construction technology students from Eastview and Innisdale Secondary schools designed and constructed the boxes.

“We tried to help make the boxes and the sides and the top of it, little cuts and stuff,” says Innisdale Secondary School student Ciarra Norton.

While Innisdale’s Global Perspectives class was responsible for collecting food, with a little help from the Barrie Food Bank.

“We had a budget of $2,000, so we went to Costco, No Frills, and Loblaws. And we kind of chose the foods that were most important,” says Innisdale student Sydney Paemurd.

“We have to think about the seasons and what’s going to be suitable during the summer versus the winter. So, the students did some research on that. We gave them some guidance in terms of what’s working. We don’t want things that are going to spoil in the pantry,” says Barrie Food Bank executive director Sharon Palmer.

Palmer says because not everyone can visit the food bank during their open hours, having 24/7 access to emergency items is a game changer.

“As we know, there’s lots of people experiencing homelessness around the city, and those people need help wherever they can get it,” says Palmer.

Students also created brochures listing various community resources to place at the pantries.

“We have the locations of the food banks, and we’ve got different sections… we have stuff for harm reduction, crisis’s, food, housing, mental health,” says Innisdale student Leah Potje.

Currently, over six food pantries are set up throughout the community. As donations come in, students will continue to stock them as needed.