LUNENBURG – "It's just a blissfully simple idea," said David Jarvis.
Jarvis, also known as Jarvo, has brought together a community of people in the Lunenburg area to help gather or bake food items that in turn, is taken to the Lunenburg Food Bank to help feed those that need it.
"For two years I've been growing for the food bank. I mean a lot of stuff. Like 400 onions, hundreds of heads of lettuce, thousands of tomatoes," he said. "Because I have the means, the opportunity and the will to do it."
Along with his efforts, he has brought friends and neighbours to go along with him and he hopes to gather more.
"People were saying to me, 'I am overcome with zucchini, I have too much lettuce, or I have to much of this. So why not get all those people to give me their excess vegetables and the food bank can have quality, untreated...all of this beautiful fresh veg and it's been working. It's a simple concept. I want people to help me, but not feel that burden."
His goal is to build a self-sufficient community that allows resources to be directed where most needed.
Jarvis was born just outside of London and raised in Leicester. He served in the British Armed Forces for 22 years and travelled around the world. During a stint in Nairobi he began several projects and helped people in many different ways, while serving.
For this, he was awarded an MBE award or Member of the Order of the British Empire, the third highest ranking Order of the British Empire award, just below knighthood. It is awarded for an outstanding achievement or service to the community which has had a long-term, significant impact. He was given the award by Queen Elizabeth II.
Following his military career, he and his wife, Karen who was born in Halifax, lived on a farm in Italy for 10 years and ran a self-sustaining farm until about five years ago when they decided to move back to Nova Scotia to be closer to her family.
They came over on a study visa, and at 55, Jarvis decided to head back to school in Dartmouth for a year to become an accredited baker.
They now live on an acreage in Second Peninsula and are awaiting their citizenship papers.
The beauty of this concept (We Feed Lunenburg) is that people don't have to make a commitment. he says people may be worried about it, but "it's whenever you git it, I can come and get it or you can drop it off to me and I will get it to the food bank."
This summer he hopes to expand this idea and have a collection point, where people can drop off a few tomatoes or one or two squash when they have extra and he said if everyone did that everyone could be fed.
Another part of his effort is the baking.
"I felt really guilty during the winter that I had nothing to give to the food bank, so I started baking a couple of years ago," he said.
Every two weeks, on food bank week, he bakes 28 loaves of bread, 48 muffins and 60 cookies to give out and he recently upped this commitment.
He will soon be expanding his offerings to include soft bread rolls. "Bang for your buck stuff."
He is using all of his own recipes and has adapted his bread recipe so he can bake 28 loaves of bread before noon in a small kitchen, and "it's good bread."
"If you are a client of the food bank you deserve the best quality stuff," he said, adding there are no additives and no fluff in his bread.
Again, though he wants people to realize that much commitment is not necessarily, adding that if you bake some bread, bake two loaves, one for you and one for the food bank, or if you are baking cookies, just set some aside.
He has even started a YouTube channel where he has shared his bread recipe and teaches how to make two loaves from start to finish.
How and why did he start doing all this. He said it started all because of the pandemic.
"I saw there was going to be a logistics problem. I am an ex-logistics officer and I know all about this kind of thing. I knew there was going to be a problem with the food chain supply and prices going up," he said. "So right away I went out and got a bunch of seeds and expanded my garden."
This is about feeding those that are hungry and raising awareness of the food bank itself, said Jarvis.
He has and will also give away plants or seeds so that people can grow things for the food bank and for themselves.
The next thing that Jarvis wants to do, in co-operation with the food bank is begin serving a soup and a roll to food bank clients and take the stigma out of being a food bank client.
"The clients can sit at the table, have a chat and have some social time before picking up their stuff and leaving. I just want to make it a guilt-free experience for them."
Another project of his is to collect cook ware to hand out to clients as well, citing he has a few good pots in the back of his cupboard that are just sitting there and could be put to better use.
Jarvis suffers from PTSD and says he "likes to keep to myself," and gets nervous around a lot of people.
However, he was convinced by Fern Jordan of the Seniors' College Association of Nova Scotia (SCANS), in a moment of happenstance, that he was convinced to give two lectures for the winter term public lecture at the Mahone Bay Chapter. The first lecture is Feb. 1 and the second, Feb. 15, at the St. John's Anglican Parish Hall. If you wish to attend, send an email to: FernSJordan@gmail.com.
"We were selling our dining room table and this lady came and got it and the next day, I got a call from Fern Jordan and she asked if I would like to do six, two-hour lectures to her group. I said no, no, that's not going to happen," said Jarvis.
"She told me she was going to be persistent and she was. We managed to haggle it down to two lectures with a view to raise awareness of what we are doing with We Feed and about the food bank and the number of people that use it."
LUNENBURG FOOD BANK
The Lunenburg Interchurch Food Bank is operated out of the Central United Church Hall at 283 Lincoln Street in Lunenburg. They are open to clients every second Tuesday from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 6:30 p.m. The next date to be open is Feb. 7. For more information call 902-930-3050 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or keep up-to-date on their Facebook page or Instagram account.
Along with food items they also collect things like soap, dish detergent, sanitary items and more for everyday living.