Home Blog May 2021 Food Banker Spotlight – Ashlee Aitken

Food Banker Spotlight – Ashlee Aitken

Food Banker Spotlight – Ashlee Aitken
We are always interested in hearing more about the individuals in food banking across Canada! This month, our spotlight is on Ashlee Aitken from Kawartha Food Share in Peterborough, ON.


 
What is your role in food banking?
I am the General Manager of Kawartha Food Share, a distribution centre that serves 37 member agencies and 51 local school programs in Peterborough and County. I sit on many local boards and steering committees to help ensure that everyone in our community has a safe and reliable access to food and other supports.
 
Describe a typical day in one word.
Ever-changing (okay, that might be two words). My day, especially during the past year is never the same, and I love it! We have a very small team working in our warehouse, so I often wear many hats.
 
What was your inspiration to get involved in food banking?
I have been involved in food insecurity in one way or another since I was a child. During high school, I volunteered at a local soup kitchen during my lunch hour and loved feeling like I was making a difference in someone’s life each day. I continued volunteering at many food banks while attending university, and went on missionary trips to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, working to provide meals to children in orphanages. When I moved to Peterborough and an opportunity arose to work for Kawartha Food Share, I knew it was where I was meant to be.
 
What is your greatest achievement in your current role?
My greatest achievement would be starting our fresh food reclamation project 3 years ago. Through this program we are now able to distribute over 10,000lbs of fresh nutritious food items each week to our member agencies. We launched the program at 3 local grocery stores and now have expanded to include 9 stores who supply produce, meat protein, eggs, cheese and dairy!
 
What is your greatest challenge in your current role? 
Currently, the demand is continuing to rise in our community, and we only have a small team working in our warehouse in an attempt to keep everyone safe and our organization operational. Our once busy warehouse that saw 100 volunteers a week has been operating for 13 months with just 10 people a day. 
 
If you could have one wish granted that would address hunger in Canada what would it be?
Basic income guarantee! 
 
Which talent would you most like to have? 
I wish I was able to learn more languages easily. I’m currently learning to speak Swahili, and it is a challenge!!
 
If you could tell your younger self advice, what would it be?
Don’t give up. Use your voice and speak up about things you a passionate about. Always be kind.
 
Who are your heroes? Fictional or real life
I work with a girl’s lacrosse team in Kenya. The first ever African women’s team to get to a National Championship! All 18 of our girls are my heroes. Their lives are full of unimaginable situations, but they show up to practises and games and are so determined and dedicated. They are the most resilient, inspirational people I know. 
 
What is your idea of happiness? 
A sunny Sunday afternoon, spent outdoors with a good book and my dog, Dallas by my side.
 
What is your motto?
Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
 
Something quirky about you that others may not expect or know?
I have a weird ability to her a song once and know all of the words. I can flip through the radio and likely know the words to every song that comes on each channel. 
 
Your theme song?
She’s Country – Jason Aldean.
 
Do you know a food bank or food banker that could be featured on our next Spotlight? Contact us at communications@foodbankscanada.ca.

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Hunger Facts

apple

40%

of food distributed by Canadian food banks is fresh (eg. milk, eggs, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, bread)