Foundation focuses on food security challenge

$20K grant to SCCSS will help establish holistic food program

sunshine coast food bankAccess to safe and nutritious meals is essential to well-being and, other than water, is the most basic need that people have. Yet, a growing number of people in our community cannot count on three healthy meals a day.

The number of households registered at the Sunshine Coast Food Bank in Sechelt more than doubled from 450 in 2009 to 920 in 2020.

During the same period, the number of individuals seeking food each month grew from 900 to 1600, a 77 per cent increase. The majority of the food bank’s clients are children and seniors.

The Sunshine Coast Foundation acknowledges this trend as an urgent challenge and its board decided to focus a significant proportion (25 per cent) of its grant-making on improving access to food-related programs.

The foundation awarded a $20,000 grant in 2020 to the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society. As part of its redevelopment plan, Community Services is using this grant to establish a holistic program that includes growing and storing food and seeds, a commercial kitchen, community gardens, and the food bank.

“Food is a major part of what we do to support vulnerable people in our community,” said Carey Rumba, manager of the community action & engagement team for the society.

“We have more than 35 programs and almost all of them touch on food in one way or another.”

To help coordinate these programs and increase food planning and policy across the society, Community Services will use its grant from the foundation in part to hire someone to develop and oversee organization-wide food programming.

Following a model used successfully in other communities, new programming at Community Services will use food as a tool to build better health, skills, and belonging.

“We will engage interested food bank and other program participants who are challenged by low incomes in our food planning and programming,” said Rumba.

“Participant engagement is a way we can help to build capacity, skills, and knowledge that will translate well into society, as well as ensure that they are eating well.

“We want to get away from just giving people food to teaching them about food”, he added.

“The Sunshine Coast Foundation is committed to making a difference on issues that are holding our community and its residents back from fulfilling their potential,” said Manjit Kang, chair of the board of the foundation.

“By offering a $20,000 grant toward this initiative that is renewable for two additional years, we hope to build the long-term capacity of the Community Services Society to address the challenges of food insecurity.”

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