Neighbours Helping Neighbours

19 July 2023

Neighbours Helping Neighbours: The Story of Good Neighbours Food Centre
by Wilmer Froese
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Toby A. Welch
$24.95 ISBN 9781778690150

 I love books that started out as a passion project as the author’s enthusiasm shows through in the words. That is clearly the case with Neighbours Helping Neighbours.

In a world filled with negativity and news channels that promote doom and gloom, Neighbours Helping Neighbours is a breath of sunshine. It gave me long-term warm fuzzies. The story of the Good Neighbours Food Centre reaffirmed to me that there is still so much good in this world. People who care are out there. 

This book shares an inspiring success story that took place in Rosthern, a small town located halfway between Saskatoon and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. The community banded together to create a food bank for people who lived with food insecurity. The author, Wilmer Froese, shared the initial planning of the food bank with two other community-minded people. Their vision statement was simple: to give food to people who need it. They opened in September 2011, operating one day a week at the local senior centre before upgrading to a standalone building. They faced some huge obstacles over the following years and crushed all of them. 

The food bank eventually claimed charitable status and then incorporated itself. It was interesting reading the steps they had to go through to make that happen. As well, they joined the Food Banks of Saskatchewan organization, an invaluable resource. 

In time, the then-named Rosthern District Food Bank expanded to include aspects that the three founding members likely never dared dream about. They created and grew a massive garden, started a food security task force, and held annual general meetings. One day a week, someone with the local employment agency takes up residence in the food bank to assist clients with all aspects of job development and employment barriers. The now-named Good Neighbours Food Centre became invaluable to their community in so many ways that extended beyond food.

People came from all over to access the food bank, bringing with them tales of serious struggles in most cases. It is a fascinating story. 

This book brought home the power of what one (or three) people can do. In a world where so many of us feel useless because really what can one person do, the answer is a lot. Lives can be changed when someone has an idea and turns it into a reality. The Aesop quote that opens chapter four sums it up best: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”  

I cannot recommend this book enough for anyone looking for a read about a small-town Saskatchewan success story that will leave you with that warm feeling long after you have turned the last page.


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