What started as three separate programs providing food for people in need has become a joint effort to support people in our community.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started in early 2020, there were three groups running meal hand-out programs in Bracebridge, but they ran into an issue: they couldn’t hand out meals anymore. Now what? Knox Presbyterian Church and its Bracebridge Out of the Cold program partnered with the Rotary Club of Bracebridge, St. Joseph’s Parish, the South Muskoka Salvation Army, and the Bracebridge United Church. They started cooking in the aforementioned church’s basement and would deliver the food to people who signed up every Wednesday. That’s continued throughout the pandemic.

The Bracebridge Out of the Cold dates back to 2006 as a volunteer-run organization. They provide people in need with a free, hot, and nutritious meal during the winter and send them away with produce and other goodies to help them through the week. 

“It really helps them make their dollars stretch so they can afford rent, they can afford heat and hydro, and they have food,” Judi Brouse, Chair of the Bracebridge Out of the Cold Steering Committee, says.

The deliveries also include a dessert, fruits and vegetables and a bag of fresh produce. 

“There have always been people with food insecurities in Bracebridge,” Brouse says. She adds before the pandemic, they were handing out and delivering to 60 to 70 people a week. Since 2020, that number has climbed to nearly 100. That number only includes deliveries, since the in-person meals have started and stopped often because of changing restrictions. 

Being that the program is entirely volunteer-run, Brouse says they’re always looking for more help, whether it’s in the kitchen or delivering meals. She adds while they were fortunate to receive multiple grants over the last two years, that’s out of the norm. The program, she says, is run through donations.

“We appreciate the support we’ve had from the community over the years,” Brouse says.

You can call 705-645-5713 to sign up for delivery. You can also drop by the united church every Wednesday between 4 and 5 PM to pick up a meal.