Downtown Brantford was filled with an air of excitement as Harvest Noon took over Harmony Square on Saturday afternoon. The event was held in order to raise awareness of poverty in Brant, Brantford and Six Nations communities, as well as to celebrate the community’s responsibility to care for one another.
It was held in conjunction with the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and featured live music, free food and information on all services available to those in need within Brantford.
More than one hundred people filtered in and out of Harmony Square to look at the information booths and grab a free snack.
“People have to support the community,” says Hans Van Zandvoort, who describes himself and his wife as longtime Brantford residents and educators.
“Yes,” agrees his wife, Elizabeth, “if you don’t come out, they’ll stop doing it.”
The event booths featured different outreach program in the community that offer services to those in need. One organization that was a favorite among those in attendance, because of the free pizza being given out, was Why Not City Mission.
Why Not is a youth drop-in center located in the downtown area that primarily helps kids aged 14 to 16. Mary Forcier, 4th year Nipissing student, began working at the mission this past summer.
“I’ve always been curious about it, so this summer I came and started volunteering,” she says.
For most at the event, including Forcier, Harvest Noon is an event for socializing and networking.
“This group lets us connect with other agencies. If we try to do everything we can’t serve [the community] properly.”
The group she is speaking of is the Brantford Roundtable on Poverty, which boasts members from local organizations, businesses as well as people from the community who use these events to network and get to know other organizations also providing aid.
For the day, however, it was all about letting the community know there is help available.
One local resident, Bob, a familiar face in Brantford as he in the downtown core, felt the event was a success.
“The whole thing in general was good…it’s a start,” says Bob.
Unlike most in attendance, Bob was one of the few who could use the free meal and organizations provided an array of foods that would please anyone.
“A lot of groups are providing food for right now, but providing fresh food allows them a meal to feed themselves when they leave the square,” said Amy Woodley of the Grand Erie Elementary Teachers
Federation, as she handed out fresh carrots, potatoes and beans.
Much of the focus was on giving support to the impoverished and as the event ended, one man filled a plastic bag with pizza slices and green beans.
For Bob, the day was about enjoying the sunshine.
“I come here every day for a couple of hours,” he said, smiling.
Regardless of what brought him to the event, his attendance was a sign to those involved with the Brantford Roundtable on Poverty that the event was not in vain.
Bob shared what he thought would really make a difference in his community.
“Smarten up, Ottawa and Toronto—that’s the only way to do it.”
Truer words were never spoken.