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Martha’s Table goes green through wave of community support

Ronda Candy, Executive Director of Martha’s Table, discusses the organization’s plans to purchase an electric vehicle in order to make their meal deliver program more sustainable. Still from video by Martha’s Table.

Martha’s Table Community Kitchen has recently announced their intention to improve and expand their service by purchasing an electric vehicle to make deliveries to recipient’s homes, and are asking the Kingston community for donations.

In a video posted to their Facebook Page, the Executive Director of the Martha’s Table community meal programs, Ronda Candy, discussed their plan to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to improve delivery to community homes with a new electric vehicle.

“We want to take part in the City’s initiative of being more green. Not just the city initiative but, from an environmental standpoint. I appreciate that we all need to do what we can to reduce emissions and our carbon footprint,” Candy said in a statement to the Kingstonist.

The City of Kingston approved a 29-station network for electric vehicle chargers in 2017, a project that was completed in August of 2019, reportedly generating a combined total of 94,400 kilowatts of energy before the subsidy program ended in December of 2019. Mayor Bryan Paterson responded to Martha’s Table’s initiative with praise and admiration, in a statement to the Kingstonist, stating: “It’s a key agency like Martha’s Table that does such great work in the community… I think that something like an electric vehicle is a real need, and I think it’s something that would really benefit Martha’s Table, all those that they serve, and benefit the community as we take that one more step to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”

The fundraiser was created in part as a response to the social distancing protocols and capacity limitations of running a food service in Ontario, as well as the amount of meals the organization provides increasing significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In a day, we [used to] hit about 200 meals, all included. Now we’re doing upwards of 200 just between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., for one meal… We want to hit 150 delivered meals a day. The need is increasing, we never thought we would hit over 300 meals a day,” Candy said, noting that numbers like that are normally associated with their Thanksgiving or Christmas meals.

Alongside the uptick in deliveries and food orders, Candy noted the distinct difference in service, with the effects of COVID-19 preventing previously safe large gatherings indoors.

“We really miss seeing our folks. The interaction and the social aspect of Martha’s were so important to everyone… It’s been just a year, and we still miss the routine of having people in, we’re not going to adjust, it’s terrible,” she said.

In March 2019, the city of Kingston became the first municipality in Ontario to declare a climate emergency, a decision which had a direct impact on Martha’s Kitchen’s choice to purchase an electric vehicle.

“It all comes into play. If we were a little bit more green, we might not be in a state of emergency. It’s a vicious cycle and we all need to do what we can,” Candy expressed.

Candy also spoke about the community’s response to the initiative. A reaction which has been largely positive.

“For the most part, the public has been really receptive, and they grasp the need for the project… they understand that there’s a real need in the community for those who can’t leave their home, but need meals at no charge. One way or the other, we’re going to be driving around town, it’s going to happen. So, people are understanding that no emissions is going to be really beneficial for the city,” she said.

Mayor Paterson also stressed the aid to which the community can give, as well as assistance from the City of Kingston if Martha’s Table or other businesses were looking to expand their green initiatives.

“This is a top priority for council, so there’s a number of actions we’re taking… Whether it’s our new home retrofit program that will help residents to be able to make energy efficient renovations for their homes, whether it’s our new program to encourage the construction of net-zero buildings, there’s a number of things the City can do to help encourage our community to take those steps,” Paterson said.

“I’m inspired by all the actions that are happening all over the community,” he continued. “I think that the Martha’s Table drive is a perfect example of that.”

Before speaking with Candy, the donation fund linked in the video was sitting at around$12,790, which she considers a rousing success, and brings Martha’s Table closer to its green goals.

“I believe it’s around [$15,000] right now, that’s the last number I saw… that’s a long ways on our path to making our success a reality. We’re in a downturn, the economy is struggling to say the least, and that people are still able to get on board and support this… I’ve been with Martha’s Table for 12 years and I am daily inspired,” she said.

The ‘Martha’s Goes Green’ campaign is included in the City of Kingston’s Kingston Community Climate Action Fund, which received a $5,000 influx thanks to a donation from Kingston Community Credit Union (KCCU) on Tuesday, Mar. 23, 2021, matching all donations made to the fund through their locations.

“As Kingston’s local credit union, we place community first, and are proud to support a fund that benefits our residents and our city’s sustainability,” said Jon Dessau, CEO of KCCU.

KCCU CEO Jon Dessau presents Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson with a cheque towards the Community Climate Action Fund, which will benefit Martha’s Table’s campaign for a new electric table. Photo via KCCU.

Donations to the Community Climate Action Fund will be accepted until the end of March 2021. To find out more about Martha’s Table and the initiative, watch the video below. To donate directly to Martha’s Table for this campaign, click here.

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