People in northern B.C. struggling to put food on the table will have better and more reliable access to healthy food with $5 million in funding to Food Banks BC and the Public Health Association of BC (PHABC).
“Rural and remote communities in northern B.C. face extra barriers getting affordable and good-quality fresh food,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “We are taking action, listening to people on the ground and working hard with local groups to support the great work they are doing in northern communities. Our $5 million in funding will help local groups meet the increasing demand for fresh, nutritious food by working together.”
Food Banks BC and PHABC will support local food-access projects developed by organizations from northern B.C. that understand the unique challenges faced by rural, remote and First Nations communities. The grants will be available in 2024.
“This funding is a significant investment toward enhancing dignified, sustainable food access for communities in the North, and comes at a time when we see British Columbians turning to food banks in record numbers,” said Dan Huang-Taylor, executive director, Food Banks BC. “We look forward to continuing to work in collaboration with the provincial government and partner stakeholders throughout northern B.C. as we collectively work toward a hunger-free British Columbia.”
The organizations will set up regional networks of non-profit groups, businesses, all levels of government, the agricultural sector and other partners to collaborate to expand access to food.
“Communities understand their own challenges and assets,” said Shannon Turner, executive director, PHABC. “The funding provided by the ministry will support local solutions that are both appropriate and, therefore, more sustainable. Working together is the best way to achieve collective impact on food insecurity.”
The funding will also be used to expand the approach of a Resilient North research project to investigate food access in other regions in B.C. A new research project will be funded to capture the needs of target groups, such as seniors, immigrants, refugees, 2SLGBTQIA+ people, and Indigenous, Black and people of colour. The goal is for decision-makers to listen to the voices and stories of these target audiences to develop programs that provide dignified food access.
This investment is part of the historic $200-million funding announced by government in March 2023 to strengthen the food supply chain throughout B.C., increase the availability of fresh food, encourage more food production in remote areas, strengthen food infrastructure and create more regional community food hubs.
Food insecurity has increased due to inflation, supply-chain issues and climate emergencies, such as fires and floods, that interrupted food supply and production. Provincial funding will help address the diverse challenges of food producers, processors, suppliers, retailers and consumers, strengthening food security for everyone.
Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine –
“Local groups understand the needs of our communities in northern B.C. and do such valuable work. This fund will go a long way to support them in creating long-term solutions to food security in the region, while helping them meet the immediate demand for fresh, nutritious food.”
Kennedy Clement, office manager, Northern Undergraduate Student Society (NUGSS) Food Bank –
“The NUGSS food bank is an important service that we offer to the UNBC community. All students, as well as staff and faculty, are welcome to use our food bank. We have seen an approximate 16% increase in its usage over the past year, and we expect that there will be a continued increase as the cost of living continues to rise. That’s why this funding is so important to us.”
TogetherBC, B.C.’s poverty reduction strategy: www.gov.bc.ca/togetherbc
Food Banks BC: https://www.foodbanksbc.com/
Public Health Association of BC: https://phabc.org/