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Leamington Gleaners send another shipment of food to northwestern Ontario

Remote communities in northwestern Ontario are about to receive food donations that came from Leamington, Ont.

The trucking company headed to Thunder Bay won't be charging a fee either

Many groceries - including fresh produce - are much more expensive in the remote north, than in other parts of Ontario. (CBC)

The result of two southern Ontario organization's collaboration is a truck with 18,143 kg (40,000 lbs) of fresh produce and non-perishable goods delivered to remote communities.

Vernon Erb, the founder of trucking company the Erb Group, will be driving the goodies from Leamington, Ont. to Thunder Bay, Ont., where it will be distributed by the Regional Food Distribution Association (RFDA).

According to Volker Kromm, executive director of RFDA, the company has been very supportive of food banks across the province.

"Right now, the trucking industry is very competitive, so it's great business for them, but everybody else is very, very expensive. But they're very generous," said Kromm.

The company would offer to ship things for a reduced cost. But what's special about this particular shipment from Leamington, is that RFDA won't have to pay a single penny for it.

The Erb Group offered to send it for free minus the fuel, which someone has already stepped up to pay.

Volker Kromm, the executive director of the Regional Food Distribution Association in Thunder Bay, is expecting a shipment of fresh food from Leamington, Ont. this week. (Cathy Alex )

The food donations have been fundraised by the Southwestern Ontario Gleaners, a non-profit organization based in Leamington. They've had to coordinate the donations from farmers to ensure everything will arrive fresh for communities.

"It's a big undertaking," said Tina Quiring, board chair and treasurer at the Gleaners.

This year will be the third time the organization has worked with CBC Thunder Bay for the Sounds of the Season food drive. Quiring said the remote communities in northwestern Ontario have a lot of need when it comes to food.

"It's pretty exciting for them to actually get fresh produce, because it's so expensive, the average person up there cannot buy it," said Quiring.

SWO Gleaners Chair Tina Quiring says it's incredibly expensive to buy fresh produce in remote communities in northern Ontario. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Once the shipment arrives in Thunder Bay, it will be divided and sent to roughly 10 communities, either by plane or by ice road.

Kromm said they're hoping to distribute shipments once every other month. They were hoping to do it once a month, but coordinating the logistics behind proved to be too complicated.

However, RFDA is expecting to deliver a non-perishable goods shipment at the end of December.

For now, they are waiting for Erb to arrive in Thunder Bay Friday.

  • Read more about CBC Windsor's 2018 Sounds of the Season campaign