People experiencing food insecurity in B.C. will benefit from $2.35 million in new government funding to support community-based programs and research into emerging and urgent food needs.
“We are committed to supporting food-security initiatives in B.C.,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Communities with access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food sources are more inclusive and better able to support the well-being of the individuals and families who live there.”
Food Banks BC is receiving $955,000, with $825,000 dedicated to providing rapid access to food for people affected by emergency events, such as wildfires and floods.
During 2021 and since the start of 2022, Food Banks BC has been working with diverse partners to get food to Lytton, Spuzzum, Boothroyd, Boston Bar, Hope, Merritt, Kamloops, Kelowna and Princeton when regular access was disrupted. In several cases, food was flown into communities when road access was cut off. Funds will be used to purchase and transport food and other supplies to food banks and community agencies throughout the province, including rural and remote communities.
Food Banks BC’s Resilient North Research Project will receive $130,000 to develop a greater understanding of the unique food-security challenges northern communities face, especially rural, remote and Indigenous communities. Food security is a measure of the availability of food and people’s ability to access it.
“Last year's devastating fires and floods created a food security emergency in B.C. Communities that were completely cut off faced desperate and urgent needs. At the same time, supply-chain disruptions and price increases created heightened food insecurity for all communities in the province,” said Dan Huang-Taylor, executive director, Food Banks BC. “As we enter a new season of potential extreme weather events, we are deeply grateful for this continued support, which will enable us to get vital supplies to people facing urgent and critical need.”
Additionally, United Way British Columbia is receiving $1.4 million, of which $1 million will support its regional community food hub operations and expand the number of food hubs from 16 to 20. Food hubs provide community members access to nutritious food, food literacy and wellness programming, as well as wraparound mental-health support, employment services and child care. In 2021, with previous funding received from the ministry, United Way British Columbia was able to support 140 organizations to serve 2.5 million meals to 154,334 people. United Way British Columbia will start up new hubs in the Regional District of Mount Waddington, Cawston (Lower Similkameen Band), Hastings-Sunrise and Surrey.
United Way British Columbia is using $400,000 to develop an app that will make it easier for communities to request food as they need it. Funding will support the development of a centralized database that will connect organizations able to supply food to communities in need. The app will be piloted in Surrey, Chilliwack and north Okanagan in 2022.
“Food Hubs are a critical lifeline for many communities across the province and, with rising inflation, the need for food security is becoming greater,” said Michael McKnight, CEO, United Way British Columbia. “The financial support provided by the Province will not only help expand food hubs across the province but will also expand the important services they currently provide – strengthening the vital connections that make communities healthy, caring and inclusive.”
Food security is identified as a key issue in TogetherBC, the Province’s poverty reduction strategy. Since 2019, the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction has provided nearly $26 million toward planning and implementing poverty-reduction and food-security initiatives in communities throughout B.C., including First Nations communities.
The funding directly supports the ministry’s mandate to lead work to increase food security for people in need by expanding government support to food banks and developing program partnerships with food producers, grocery stores and not-for-profit organizations to develop discounted food market, food recovery and food redistribution programs.
TogetherBC, B.C.’s poverty-reduction strategy: http://www.gov.bc.ca/togetherbc
To learn more about Food Banks BC, visit: https://www.foodbanksbc.com/
To learn more about United Way British Columbia, visit: https://www.uwbc.ca/