The organization involves volunteers growing and collecting fresh produce, which is then distributed to vulnerable populations through Moisson Beauce, a local food bank.
The economic distress around the world had led to prices of fruits and vegetables shooting up. During the pandemic, many were at their wit's end, trying to get food on the table. Seeing this, Jean Champagne and his family felt determined to help people in crisis. At dinner, the family formulated a plan to establish a non-profit that would preserve the fresh produce and distribute it amongst vulnerable populations. Fortunately, their non-profit was received favorably and they soon became desperate for a new headquarters. Through a stroke of luck, they stumbled upon a church that they were able to purchase for $1 to complete their activities on a large scale, reports CBC.
Cultiver pour partager (growing to share) is a non-profit organization operated by the Champagne family to combat food insecurity. The organization invites volunteers to grow food in summer as well as collect food from farms that go to waste. After this, the produce goes to Moisson Beauce. Moisson Beauce is a food bank where Marie, daughter of Jean Champagne, works as a General Manager. The food bank distributes food to the portion of the population that cannot afford it. According to the website, the bank responds to 150,000 requests for food aid in collaboration with over 50 local organizations.
Cultiver pour partager has grown considerably over the years. They required new headquarters to store the produce they were collecting before transporting it. In 2021, they were looking for a space, when their priest contacted them. "Our priest called me in the morning, [asking] 'Jean, do you think that you can need some time in the future, a building?'" Champagne said. The priest told them about a church in Saint-Alfred, a small town about 100 kilometers southeast of Quebec City, that was up for sale.
Selling churches has become more common in recent years because of a lack of parishioners. This church was built in 1931 and deconsecrated in 2022. However, because of its long history, the building needed some repairs but was perfect for the organization's objectives. Champagne quickly jumped on board as he loved the idea of a noble deed occurring under the blessings of god. "That's what had to happen, that [was] amazing," he shared.
The family had to sign a contract in which one of the clauses clearly mentioned that the activities inside the building must coincide with the Catholic church values. "Allowing it to be used for just any purpose was out of the question," said Jean-Denys Rancourt, the president of the parish. The Sainte-Famille-de-Beauce parish loved what the organization was trying to achieve and immediately agreed to the deal. Churchwarden Julie Fortin did not mind the nominal sum being given to the church as long as it was put for a good cause to help other people.
An old deconsecrated church in Beauceville, Que., will be turned into a space to grow and store fresh produce year round, with the harvest going to a local food bank. https://t.co/4jId7odePC .— CBC News (@CBCNews) October 17, 2023
The organization will create a cold room on one side of the premises, which will be rented out to Moisson Beauce to store the fresh produce. The area allocated for this purpose is enough for 75,000 kilograms worth of fresh produce. The other side will be utilized to wash and pack the food. A greenhouse will be built in the altar area. The renovations will begin in November. The provincial government, along with private and public investors, will fund this project. The project will enable Moisson Beauce to double its output and consequently help more people.