Summer is for dining al fresco with loved ones against a backdrop of sunsets and birdsong. Gardens plump up with produce, and trees become heavy with ripe fruit. But not everyone has direct, affordable access to fresh, locally grown food, no matter the time of year.
Several successful projects are making a difference in Basin communities by creating or enhancing communal growing or processing spaces, welcoming knowledge-sharing opportunities for members of the public, and reducing food waste.
Local food production and access is important for residents, and investing in projects that help nourish a wider population, now and into the future, is crucial. The Trust offers initiatives that aim to bump up opportunities for people in the Basin to obtain wholesome, nutritious food.
Commercial kitchen boosts fresh meal production
The Healthy Kimberley Food Recovery Depot is installing a commercial kitchen in the Kimberley Health Centre to better process recovered food and to add a fresh-meal program alongside its free frozen-meal service. The new kitchen, added with support from the Trust, will increase the volume and efficiency of meal production and provide a welcoming community hub
“All food and fresh ingredients will be on site so we can work more efficiently and explore new opportunities,” says Program Coordinator Shannon Duncan. “The depot is such a ripe ground for bringing people together around food, and offering regular workshops will be a great addition to our services. Our fast growth has created a need for a subsidized fresh-meal program for those unable to pay market prices.”
Seniors Helping Seniors is one of the nonprofit organizations partnering with the depot to deliver recovered food to over 50 seniors on a weekly basis. “We delivered about 5,133 pounds of food from April 2022 to April 2023,” says Coordinator Cathy Korven. “The program has been so impactful and makes a huge difference—this food is being saved and made into nourishing meals for people that really need it.”
Read the full feature on Healthy Kimberley Food Recovery Depot here.
Partaking in Indigenous traditions
Golden’s Métis Nation Columbia River Society acts as an advocate, voice, representative and protector of traditional Métis values. It also provides Elders and Knowledge Keepers more opportunities to offer cultural teachings that preserve and celebrate their vibrant heritage in a welcoming social environment. With Trust support, the society has increased its ability to practise and pass along its culture through traditional ceremonies and workshops by purchasing whole buffalos and then processing each entire animal, from meat to hide. It also built gardens to grow a harvest it can share, ensuring a nutrient-rich diet for Elders and others in the community.
“In addition to producing bison meat, we use every part of the animal in the ways of our ancestors,” says Davene Dunn, an Elder with the society. “Sharing our traditions with the community is a huge step in understanding our history and for reconciliation, but we’re also building something positive by teaching about our great culture.”
Mobile food bank reaches rural area
Meadow Creek resident Tija Jansons has been using the Kaslo Community Services’ (KCS) food cupboard for over 10 years.
“It has helped me through many hard times,” she says. “The people at KCS have made a real, sustainable community food source that so many depend upon. It is my greatest hope that we may see more examples of community projects that aspire to be as beneficial as the food hub.”
In addition to the food cupboard, the KCS’s food security project includes a recovery program, which receives about 15,000 kilograms in food donations each year. With Trust support, KCS has enhanced the ability of area residents to obtain affordable local food by purchasing processing equipment to extend the shelf life of recovered food and by establishing a mobile service that distributes it to a wider net of people.
“We’ve been running our food recovery program for seven years,” says Food Security Coordinator Patrick Steiner. “The Trust’s funding allowed us to buy kitchen equipment to preserve and process donated food and reduce waste, hire more staff and create a mobile food bank service to increase access for folks in the Meadow Creek area. As more and more people are facing an affordability crisis, we’re ensuring they have food on their table every week.”
Improved kitchen enables programs to expand
Fernie’s Salvation Army operates a busy food bank and food recovery/share program, both of which receive a weekly average of 300 to 350 visits. It gained support from the Trust to renovate a kitchen so it can expand programming to include cooking classes using recovered food, as well as provide weekly meals to people in need. These new opportunities will benefit locals by boosting social connection and increasing access to a wider array of healthy donated food.
“With the rising cost of food, and wages staying stagnant, it’s very difficult for people to make ends meet. This program helps lower-income people access food they wouldn’t be able to afford,” says Major Rick Robins. “Having a certified kitchen to safely sort donated food, run cooking classes and host community dinners helps alleviate hunger. We’re excited for what the future holds!”
New food literacy hub
Robson Valley Community Services, a Valemount-based organization dedicated to strengthening community through its programs and services, has undertaken a kitchen upgrade and expansion with support from the Trust. The updated space is now the home base for its food rescue program and other services.
“Through food literacy programs, people will gain knowledge that empowers them to grow, share and source out local food options,” says Jana MacMaster, Acting Executive Director. “By collaborating with local experts and professionals, we can teach people the value of growing and consuming healthy, local food. We’re grateful to be part of projects that facilitate community-focused outcomes.” The kitchen will be used in conjunction with the organization’s garden to make meals or preserve provisions for its free pantry and school snack programs.