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Bowman Blackmon started the Facebook page Never Hungry Saskatoon three years ago.
He worked in the oil industry and when that took a hit, so did he.
Falling into a life of drugs he lost hope. After a suicide attempt at 39, he realized his life was spared which gave him a new perspective.
That made Blackmon want to help others while giving his own life purpose.
“I knew that I needed to do something to give back. It was a new life given. I didn’t really know what I had to do, but God wanted me to do something,” he said.
He started by buying food for people who were in need.
The Never Hungry page started with only 50 of his friends but has grown to 1,300 followers. Many joined after the pandemic started, according to Blackmon.
The page allows followers to post requests for food, then others will answer the call. Some of the requests give details on how many children they are trying to feed or if they have a medical condition. Others say they need some food to get them to their next paycheque.
Posts also include offers from people who are cleaning out their pantries and want to put the extras to good use.
A single mother who follows the group even made a draw for two turkeys before Christmas.
Blackmon says he’s proud that everyone who has posted to the page gets help.
He monitors the page to ensure the requests are legitimate and the food drop offs are safe for everyone involved.
He says it’s unique because people are helping others firsthand.
“You’re not just throwing cash at something and walking away and saying ya, I did something. That’s good, don’t get me wrong, but this gives you a different opportunity to be hands on and get connections.”
He likes that the page supports other organizations like the food bank by providing food to people in between the times they get their hampers.
He also says he’s heard from many people who need their food delivered, like single mothers who would need to get a babysitter in order to get a food hamper.
Meanwhile, other organizers are securing a location on 20th Street for a Riversdale Commuity Fridge.
The fridge is filled with food by anyone wanting to donate and can be accessed 24 hours a day by those in need.
Renata Cosic is one of five volunteers working on that project and says they are modelling it after a Food Fridge program in Regina and Calgary.
“It is even more vital now because with COVID-19 forcing the food bank and other meal programs to close for two weeks at a time, the fridges can be accessed regardless, providing food for those who are hungry.”