Alexandria food bank needs more personal care products for those its helps

The shelves are well-stocked at the food bank in Alexandria, but there is one type of item it could use more of.

Terry Tuppert is the Vice President of the St-Vincent-de-Paul Society in Alexandria which operates the food bank.

He said the items they need the most are for personal care and hygiene.

St-Vincent-de-Paul does not purchase those items with the funds it receives in donations and relies only on whatever people give.

The personal care items most in need are disposable diapers, deodorant, shampoo, and feminine hygiene products.

Tuppert said diapers are a challenge for many people to get because they are expensive, and because children grow quickly, it is important for the food bank to have a selection of sizes in stock.

In Alexandria, the food bank, clothing, and thrift store provided by St-Vincent-de-Paul has been preparing for Christmas and winter.

For people with low and fixed incomes, “It’s a costly thing to live through winter,” Tuppert said.

The extra costs come from the need to pay for heat, lighting, and warm clothing for children.

Tuppert explained that the Christmas season puts extra pressure on people with limited incomes because of the pressure to spend money for gifts and other things associated with celebrating.

“Their dollar needs to be stretched,” he said.

The food bank provides food baskets with a balanced selection of items to people who qualify. Families receive more items because of the need to feed children and provide lunches for school.

Separate food baskets for Christmas are given to those who apply and qualify. According to Tuppert, 300 of them could be distributed this year.

“That’s a big project,” he said, regarding organizing the Christmas basket project.

St-Vincent-de-Paul in Alexandria serves all of Glengarry County, and it relies on support from throughout the county.

Donations of food and clothing items are accepted, but the organization also relies heavily on monetary donations, so it can purchase food.

“The people of Glengarry are really, really generous,” Tuppert said.

He added that many corporate sponsors regularly contribute.

The St-Vincent-de-Paul food bank in Alexandria is in the basement of the presbytery of Église Sacré-Cœur.

It regularly distributes an average of 35 food baskets weekly, but 235 Christmas baskets have been distributed this year.

Service from the food bank is limited to residents of Glengarry County.  Anyone who needs assistance can find out more by calling 613-525-0941.

Did you know that 70 per cent of students in our region eat breakfast at school?

How many students eat breakfast at school? The answer is: about 47,000 students in the five counties plus Leeds Grenville and Renfrew County surrounding Ottawa.

Those are spread among 247 programs (including after-school) in 220 different locations. About 70 per cent of the student population eats breakfast at schools in the counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, and Prescott-Russell (SDGPR) as well as Leeds Grenville and all of Renfrew County. For the five counties (SDGPR), 28,365 students receive breakfast at school.

That works out to 3,825,061 meals served in the 2017-2018 school year. A meal includes both a snack or a morning meal program. A breakfast is considered to be three items served out of the four food groups and a snack is two out of the four items.

Not just poverty

There are many factors that contribute to students needing to rely on breakfasts at school, says Jennifer Cuillerier.

Cuillerier is the Student Nutrition Program Regional Manager for Upper Canada Leger Centre for Education & Training, the organization in charge of administering the programs across the five counties. While it is associated to the Upper Canada District School Board, the Leger centre works across all school boards for the nutrition program.

Initially, she says, the programs were focused on students from low-income families. Students had to sign into the program, which meant they were often singled out. Asked if she sees the program as a band-aid on a larger problem, she says, “When I first started, I thought maybe that’s what it was.”

Now, all students have access to the breakfasts and snacksno signing in, no singling out.

The circumstances surrounding the programs, adds Cuillerier, have also morphed during that time, leading to a more holistic approach.

“When we’re talking about food literacy, preparing meals, encouraging local, all of those other elements, I see it as a life-skill that we’re teaching kids,” she says. “If we were to take all of that away and just concentrate on poverty, I don’t know how that would work without singling out those kids again.”

Cuillerier says the quality of lunches and breakfasts has also gone down over the years.

Time is a major factor: parents are busier than ever, many cut corners in their own diets and that can translate to their children’s eating habits as well.

While the program hasn’t gone directly to parents to discuss the trend, it hopes to get the message across by working with the schools.

In the school

While the Leger centre is in charge of allocating funds, schools organize how they run their own program.

Cuillerier recently invited MP Francis Drouin and Clarence-Rockland Mayor Guy Desjardins to visit two of the programs in their area, the one at Rockland District High School (RDHS) and the other at École élémentaire publique Carrefour Jeunesse.

Adult volunteers run the program at Carrefour Jeunesse for the younger kids, while high-risk students in the Community Living Program are in charge of the breakfasts at RDHS.

Sean Burgess is the teacher in charge of the CLP and he says the program is a great way for these students to develop helpful life skills like cooking. The breakfasts range from bagels and cream cheese to grilled cheese to grilled egg sandwiches on english muffins. The students make breakfast twice a week, and according to Burgess they’re cleaned out every time.


Through provincial funding and private partnerships, Cuillerier says that program is in a “good place” overall financially.

Well, with what it is given.

According to Cuillerier, the provincial standard is $1.30 for a breakfast and $0.85 for a snack.

Overall, the program is given $1.37 million a year for food and operating costs from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. This doesn’t include funding from other partners like United Way Prescott-Russell and the Breakfast Club of Canada, among several others.

The majority of that money goes to the schools for their food. Cuillerier has also developed partnerships with local producers like St-Albert Cheese and apple orchards. Those partnerships, she says, aren’t just a good way to buy in bulk for all schools, they’re also a bit of a safety net.

In the past, the program had partnerships with large organizations and that would often mean putting all its eggs in one basket. If that partnership were to fall through then it would mean nearly starting from scratch. By having a diverse cast of producers, it guarantees some food would be available if another partnership was to end. According to Cuillerier, about 20 per cent of the program’s overall food budget goes towards these kinds of partnerships. The rest goes to schools to buy supplies.

For example, SDGPR gets $463,400 for food, plus any funds raised by local community organizations. The amount each individual school receives is based on various factors like the number of times they serve breakfasts and/or snacks, and how many students actually take advantage of the program. Schools must report their purchases to ensure they’re within budget.

While it doesn’t happen too often, Cuillerier says her team can step in if ever a school isn’t quite meeting the healthy aspect of the program.

Uncertain future

In the past, Cuillerier says she likes that the program has kept a relatively low profile. Those who need the program know it’s there and will use it.

While she hasn’t had any official indication that the province would reduce or cut funding to the Student Nutrition Program, past decisions don’t inspire much confidence.

Notably, MPP Amanda Simard was also invited to join the school visits but she was unable to attend.

Following the meeting, The Review asked MP Drouin if funding could come from the federal level to ensure the viability of the program. He essentially deferred to the province, but said, “We’re a G7 country and should find the money.”

Asked about future improvements, Cuillerier says she wants more people to be aware of the program and its overall scope—to know that it’s more than just a band-aid.

The current partners supporting the program include the Ministry of Children and Youth, United Way Prescott-Russell, Breakfast Clubs of Canada, The Grocery Foundation, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Egg Farmers of Canada, Dairy Farmers of Ontario and Partir d’un bons Pas.

Alexandria Jr B Glens on a winning streak

The Alexandria’s Jr B Glens won their last three games, including two overtime wins. One of the overtime victories was against the league’s #1 team: the Ottawa Junior Canadians. In that Friday night game where Alexandria stopped the Canadians winning streak, Dylan Stacey (picture above) scored twice including the winning goal on overtime which gave Stacey the 1st star of the match. On Saturday the Glens defeated the Westport Rideaus by the score of 5-4, once again on overtime. (Text and picture by S.Lauwers)


Please: No by-election

To The Editor,

Reading recent letters to the editor in The Review and elsewhere, my reaction was – please don’t waste taxpayer money on a provincial by-election!  Come on, with about 70% of the riding being Francophone, who do you think would win?  Which party would ruin its chances of getting elected in 2022 by running against French services?

But I agree that accountability of our politicians is important, so here is my proposal.  Amanda Simard should post an on-line questionnaire with a few simple YES / NO questions, as follows.  What is your postal code?  Did you vote for me in the general election?  Would you vote for me if a by-election were held?  Do you agree with my decision to vote for the NDP motion, against the changes to French services proposed by Doug Ford?  Do you agree with my decision to leave the PC caucus to sit as an independent?  Do you think I should cross the floor and become a Liberal?

The results would be a public service by indicating the degree of public opposition or support, in a fairly objective way. Having postal codes prevents any group from the electronic version of stuffing the ballot box, because the numbers can be cross-referenced to local poll results.

The last question would be a deal-breaker for me.  It is one thing to follow her conscience and sit as an independent based on this issue, but joining the Liberals so they could get official party status would be a betrayal of all the other Conservative policies she campaigned on.

Except, she did not publicly campaign on them, did she? My final comment is to PC voters. If you have been complaining about her accountability on this issue, to your neighbours, on social media, or in a letter to the editor … where were you when she boycotted all the public candidate debates during the election? Did you complain about her lack of accountability at that time? Did you write a letter to the editor encouraging her to show up and debate in public? Did you vote for her anyway? If so, you got what you voted for.

David Sherwood, Ste-Anne-de-Prescott


Anatomy of a massage appointment

You’ve booked your first massage. Now what? Sometimes, the fear of the unknown stops us from trying new things, so I’ll run through what you can expect.

A massage appointment usually begins with filling out some forms. They might seem kind of nosy but the questions allow us to treat you safely. Previous surgeries, even if years ago, can affect your musculature and might be causing some of the pain you are currently feeling. Knowing that you take heart medication or blood pressure medication might change the way we perform the massage and be on the lookout for certain side effects to the treatment. Sometimes we will need to send you to your doctor to rule out another health concern before continuing massage treatment.

Your therapist will be assessing you from the moment you walk in the door. Do you walk with a limp? Are you visibly in pain? Do you have difficulty sitting or standing? What is your posture like while you talk with us? Depending on your concern there might be additional testing, such as checking the range of motion in a limb, or asking questions based on your health history.

A new requirement of our profession is obtaining signed consent for certain body parts. Your therapist will discuss which areas they will be working on and together you will determine if signing for consent is required. If not, you’re ready for the treatment.

The therapist will leave the room to let you get on the table. You will undress based on your comfort level and the areas to be treated. You may or may not be keeping your pants on, for example, or if you are not comfortable removing your bra, that is okay, too. Whether you are on your stomach or back, you will be covered with a sheet and usually a blanket. When working on each area, that area will be uncovered and recovered when moving on to the next area. If you require pillows to be more comfortable, please ask. Some therapists use pillows under the abdomen, some don’t.

You might be ticklish in some areas, fall asleep and snore, chat through the whole thing, or not say a word. We’ve seen it all and aren’t fazed by any of it. This is your time. We want you to enjoy it.

Make a difference and help protect your local environment in 2019

Are you passionate about your local environment? Is your New Year’s resolution to get involved in your community?

South Nation Conservation (SNC) is seeking local volunteers who are interested in sitting on committees or helping with a variety of the Conservation’s Authority’s activities across its 4,384 square-km jurisdiction in Eastern Ontario.

“Donating your time and energy to a non-for-profit environmental organization can be extremely rewarding” explains John Mesman, SNC’s Communications Lead.

“Your involvement, big or small, is important in protecting our local environment, and it can make a difference in your community.”

Volunteers are needed starting next spring to help with park cleanup; fish, wildlife and water monitoring; habitat restoration; tree planting, and events. Volunteer hours will be approved by SNC for participating high school students.

SNC has several properties where volunteers can act as eyes and ears on the ground as forest stewards. Forest stewards receive training and assist SNC in the management of forests by monitoring assigned properties in the vicinity of where they live.

The Conservation Authority also operates four committees made up of volunteers within its 16-member municipalities. They review projects being developed by staff and offer recommendations to be presented to the SNC Board of Directors.

“You don’t need an environmental background to volunteer with SNC” adds Mesman. “We’re always looking for new people with fresh ideas.”

In addition to volunteer opportunities, SNC is the leading summer student employer in the region. Local students gain experience working in the forest, conducting environmental monitoring, and delivering education programs.

Students interested in summer employment opportunities with SNC are encouraged to check the Conservation Authority’s website in the coming weeks for opportunities in 2019.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Taylor Campbell, SNC Communications Specialist, 1-877-984-2948 ext. 296, [email protected].

Local author begins global adventures on the page and through audio waves

Author Dr. Melissa Yuan-Innes recently signed a five-book contract with NARAT, a leading organization in worldwide adventure travel, and a three-book exclusive audio contract with the Kobo Originals program.

Yuan-Innes, who writes fiction under the pen name Melissa Yi, will create a unique, character-driven adventure novel series set in different locations around the world, starting with Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.

This is the first time a travel company has collaborated with an author to write novels of international intrigue in this capacity.

“We’re still working out the book details,” says Yuan-Innes, “but the protagonist is a man of classic adventure who’s drawn into an global web of intrigue. He’ll be inspired by Thanushka Nanayakkara, the founder and CEO of NARAT.”

Is it ironic that Yuan-Innes signed the contract one month after releasing her sixth Hope Sze medical thriller, Death Flight, which depicts murder on board an airplane?

Yuan-Innes laughs.

“I thought of that, too. I’ll keep an eye open in the air—not to mention when I’m hiking up Cotopaxi Mountain, or checking out blue footed boobies in the Galápagos!”

Meanwhile, in Canada, her first three Melissa Yi medical mysteries will transform into audio books delivered exclusively through the Kobo Originals program.

“I’m excited that readers who listen to books will be able to hear Dr. Hope Sze for the first time. Kobo Originals launched with Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People, which was nominated for the Giller Prize, and Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves, a Canada Reads finalist, so it’s a huge honour to have Code Blues, Notorious D.O.C., and Terminally Ill join that kind of calibre.”

The narrator for the Hope Sze novels, Jenny Kelly, is a San Francisco-based voice actor over ten years of experience in studio and on stage, with a special passion for audio book narration. Yuan-Innes says, “I liked Jenny Kelly’s humour and warmth, because even when Hope faces the most harrowing adventures, she laughs. Even if it’s through her teeth.”

Although Yuan-Innes will be roaming the globe, she’ll return to South Glengarry to write her novels, including the seventh Hope Sze thriller. She says, “Charles Darwin wrote that ‘nothing can be more improving to a young naturalist, than a journey in distant countries.’ At the same time, as Dorothy pointed out in The Wizard of Oz, ‘There’s no place like home.’ I can’t wait to explore the world and create back home, surrounded by my family and friends.”

Emergency Physician and Award-Winning Writer

Visit Eastern Ontario’s North Pole at Santa’s Village in Dalkeith

Santa’s Village in Dalkeith is the very embodiment of the Christmas spirit. A local treasure, this attraction celebrates everything magical about the Holiday season as well as delicious winter clichés – from cozy campfires to heart-warming culinary delights.

The Village was created by (and is located at) Scherer Gardening, in Dalkeith, and after stepping through its archway, any visitor will immediately recognize it for what it is – a labour of love.

The place has been run by Head Elf Andy Scherer since its humble beginnings.

“We started this village a little over 15 years ago,” said Scherer.

“It started small. We had a campfire, we sold Christmas trees, hot chocolate, chili. Nowadays, we’re doing all this on a much bigger scale.”

The attraction’s growth was guided and inspired by the love of the community. These days, Santa’s Village is quite a site to behold, with it’s many shacks, shops, eleven staff, petting zoo, playground and, of course, Santa Claus.

“On a good day, we can get approximately 400 people. It depends on the weather. A lot of people come for our horse sleigh rides, which started on December 9 for this season because we’re waiting on snow,” said Scherer.

For the 2018 season, Santa’s Village started welcoming guests on Saturday, December 1. Even if the first weekend won’t be offering sleigh rides, everything else will be present, from hot chocolate to deer feeding time.

“Santa Claus will be here every weekend, walking around our beautiful village – his home – available to talk to all the children and their parents… Or even share a roasted marshmallow,” said Scherer.

Scherer will indeed be quite busy “elfing around” over the next few weeks. Anyone needing a well-deserved Christmas spirit boost would do well to visit the village on the weekend.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than putting a smile on a kid’s face. We have families that came here with their children back when they were little, and now they are all grown up and visiting with children of their own. It’s awesome to see that,” said Scherer.

Anyone interested in visiting Santa’s Village, aka Eastern Ontario’s North Pole, can find more information on its website,

The village is open on the first three weekends during the month of December from 10am to 4pm. Tickets are $10 per person and children 2 years old and under enter for free.

Annual Christmas Tree giveaway brings early holiday spirit

Local home and auto insurance company The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group today announced its annual festive holiday gift to the communities that it serves. The company will be giving away 150 Christmas trees to families in Lindsay, Alexandria and Perth on Saturday, December 1st in exchange for a cash donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

To kick off the holiday season, The Commonwell will use the tree giveaway as an opportunity to raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations in Lanark County, Kawartha Lakes – Haliburton and Cornwall and District, pledging to match all public donations raised up to $1,500 in each region.

What: The Commonwell Christmas Tree Giveaway: 50 trees will be given away in Lindsay, Alexandria and Perth
When: Saturday, December 1st from 9:30am-12:00pm (or while supplies last)
Where: Lindsay: The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group
336 Angeline Street South
Alexandria: The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group 3720 County Road 34\
Perth: The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group 96 South St. / Scotch Line Road

“Over the past several years, our annual Christmas tree giveaway has become a big part of our connection to our communities. Many locals look forward to it every holiday season and we’re thrilled to bring it back again for 2018,” said Tim Shauf, President and CEO of The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group.

Trees will be given away on a first come, first served basis.

Alexandria’s Festival of Lights goes dark

Christmas in Alexandria this year may be as merry as ever, but it won’t be as bright. The Festival of Lights, a tradition in the community, will not take place this year.

The Festival was founded by Ron Aubin, the owner of Alexandria’s Home Hardware, who in 2006 recruited the aid of other businesses and friends to create 22 light structures in Island Park. Since then, the Festival has grown and thrived, becoming an enterprise which cost $25,000 to $30,000 to mount, supported by $5,000 from the Municipality of North Glengarry, which also contributed access to Island Park.

Each year, a committee involving local businesses was formed to plan and execute the Festival of Lights. But in the spring of this year, the committee dissolved and no volunteers came forward to take their place.

According to one committee member who asked not to be named, ‘an incident’ occurred in the spring.

Although the festival has been cancelled for this year, founder Ron Aubin says the festival could be revived next year or in the future, if someone was willing to take on the responsibility.

Light in other places

But even without the Festival of Lights, there are plenty of other holiday activities taking place in North Glengarry this year.  Maxville led the way with a Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony and a Gingerbread House Contest taking place at King George Park, on Saturday, November 17. The Maxville Santa Claus Parade was held on Sunday November 18.

On Friday November 30, there will be a Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at Mill Square in Alexandria, an event that includes free wagon rides from Chartrand’s Independent Grocer to Mill Square and back, starting at 6:30 pm. And of course, Santa will be on hand in Mill Square to greet the children.

New this year, the Township of North Glengarry will host Fireworks in the Park, on Sunday December 2, following the Alexandria Lions Club Christmas Parade, which will leave the Glengarry Sports Palace at approximately 6 pm, heading down Main Street in Alexandria.

Shop and celebrate locally

Christmas isn’t Christmas without presents.  If you are looking for a unique, hand-crafted gift, head to the Maxville Christmas Market and Craft Show at the Maxville and District Sports Complex on Saturday December 15, between 10 am and 4 pm.

Another tradition in the area is Santa’s Village in Dalkeith, which will be open every weekend between December 1 and Christmas, from 10 am to 4 pm, where children can pet the deer, goats and ponies, while the adults find the perfect Christmas tree. The Glengarry Evergreen Farm in Alexandria will be open on December 1, for visits and photos with Santa and a chance to pick out a tree and hand-crafted decorations.

For a complete list of North Glengarry community events, visit the event calendar at