It’s Friday, payday, and you need groceries.
You’ve worked out the budget and know exactly what you can afford to spend. You have a list with the food your family needs and are shopping at your usual grocery store. But when your items have been scanned, the total is $60 more than you anticipated.
Increasingly, and every day, British Columbians are faced with the impossible choice of not having the food they need or sacrificing for this basic need in other ways that make them vulnerable as costs continue to soar.
According to a new study by University of Toronto researchers, about one in six Canadians, roughly 16 per cent, have experienced some form of food insecurity. Families are having to make compromising choices, seniors on a fixed income are struggling, students aren’t getting enough to eat, and the economic pinch has been particularly difficult for Indigenous families living in rural or remote areas.
At United Way British Columbia, ensuring those in need have access to nourishing and culturally appropriate food is a priority. That’s why the Regional Community Food Hub Initiative was created!
Food Security is not just about the food itself. It’s about food literacy programming and wellness activities, connection and relationship building; it’s about the joy in a jar of local honey, or the satisfaction of preparing a meal you can be proud of.
United Way BC works with partners and organizations to identify food insecurities in small towns, rural, remote and Indigenous communities, as well as city neighbourhoods. The goal of this hub-and-spoke model of food provision is to build a sustainable food security system that meets the needs in each region. Here in the Lower Mainland, they’ve developed Regional Community Food Hubs in South Vancouver, Downtown East Side, Burnaby, Surrey, Abbotsford, and Sea to Sky. Importantly, these Food Hubs focus on culturally appropriate food. The United Way Food Hub in Chinatown worked closely with local Asian markets to source more culturally appropriate food for isolated seniors who were unfamiliar with the pasta, tomato sauce and beans originally delivered.
“For non-profit organizations doing this work, we’re able to make this funding go a long way,” says Liz Blakeway, a partner in one of United Way BC’s Regional Food Hubs. “It’s important for people to know the funding they provide is stretched a long way and it stays in your community. It helps us provide jobs, create food security, and build resilient food systems. “
Thanks to United Way BC donors, 2.5 million meals were provided to families and individuals in need last year by their 16 Regional Community Food Hubs and seven Food Recovery Organizations.
This is just one more way that United Way British Columbia is strengthening vital connections to food and community, leading to improved quality of life for those in need.