PBS documentary focuses on Kemptville food bank

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A group of film students from the Film and Media Production program at Algonquin College are proud that a documentary they produced aired on the Watertown PBS television station last weekend. The 7-minute documentary called “A Table for All” focuses on the Kemptville Salvation Army food bank. It aired on December 14.

Why would a group of students from an Ottawa college make a documentary about a small town food bank? “I feel that the increase in food scarcity in recent years is something that needs attention,” said Director Mya MacInnis. “The number of families accessing the food bank has skyrocketed in a very short time period. The thing that people may not realize is that a lot of the families that are now needing the food bank’s support have two incomes. People now have to make choices that they didn’t before because the prices of groceries are no longer affordable for them.”

From left to right: Jeremy Bakana, Mya MacInnis

The issue of food prices causes two related issues. One is that more people need to access food banks, and the other is that it costs more for food banks themselves to acquire food. The problem creates a loop, and leads to food scarcity.

The choice of Kemptville as the documentary setting is less mysterious. “I chose Kemptville’s Salvation Army food bank as the setting because I grew up in Kemptville and have been a member of the Salvation Army church here for many years,” said Mya. “In that time, I have also helped as a volunteer for things like the food bank’s Fill-a-Bag campaign, the thrift store, and the Christmas Kettle Campaign as a bell ringer. Through that, I’ve learned a lot about the community outreach and support services the Salvation Army provides.” Mya notes that the Salvation Army church in Kemptville is very close to her heart and has been a big part of her life. “I feel that the work they do in our community is very important and I really wanted to shine a light on that,” she added.

The documentary was the team’s first, and it was shown on the WPBS station at 10 pm along with the documentaries by other students in the class. The documentaries were an end-of-semester project for the class. Mya was very excited to have the documentary air on TV. She hopes one day to work on feature films and TV shows, particularly as a costume designer or cinematographer. She would also enjoy directing something again if the opportunity came along.

When asked what she enjoyed the most, Mya said she really liked working with the others, including her production team, and the food bank manager, Esteban Castillo. “From speaking to the volunteers, you can tell how deeply they care about the work they do,” said Mya. “They care about the clients and put in a lot of effort to be there for them and to help out. Speaking with the clients helped me understand their perspective and their thoughts on the issue.”

Mya extends a heartfelt thanks to the Kemptville Salvation Army Church, Esteban Castillo, pastors Erin and Calvin Wong, and the staff at the food bank. She also wishes to thank all the interview participants, B&H Grocer, and Food Basics for taking part in the documentary, and she provided a shout out to her team members Ben Seibel (editor), Jeremy Bakana (director of photography), and Brady Richards (audio technician) as well. “This was a team effort and it could not have been done without them!”

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