A grocery store shelf stocked with packaged non-perishable food.

Photo Credit: Canva

Community Comes Together to Fight Food Deserts on VanIsle

$100,000 is going towards a new Mount Waddington food hub

They don’t just exist in the USA, they’re right here at home

While “food desert” is a scary buzzword in North America, we tend to pretend they don’t exist here.

Surely everyone on VanIsle has access to good, healthy food?

Well, not everyone.

Gold River, for example, just got its first grocery store since 2016. People were having to commute 90 km to Campbell River just to get groceries.

While most towns do have access to at least some form of groceries, this is really the tip of the iceberg.

Food insecurity is a growing issue for families across the Island. Food prices have been going up. And so has the cost of everything else.

Kim Winchell is the senior director of Strategic Initiatives at United Way British Columbia. Mount Waddington is just one area where folks are struggling to keep food on the table, she told the North Island Eagle.

“BC has Canada’s highest rate of working poor. People across the province were already facing hard choices getting enough food prior to the pandemic, now it’s even tougher.”

To help combat this issue, United Way British Columbia has just awarded $100,000 for the creation of a Community Food Hub in the region.

“Having a United Way Regional Community Food Hub in a city or neighbourhood means everyone in need in that community will have increased access to food,” said Winchell.

The local food hub project is a part of a grassroots-style partnership between the Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society (MWFLS) and the Mount Waddington Community Food Initiative (MWCFI).

They’ve helped lead the community to keep folks’ bellies full since the pandemic.

Their organizers started from the ground up. They been networking and reaching out to larger organizations like United Way to get funding for projects that will impact our home in a big way.

Leslie Dyck is the executive director of MWFLS, the MWCFI coordinator, and the food hub project steward.

“In the region’s rural and remote setting, most of the food systems work is done as piecework by community members, mostly volunteers, who are committed to creating an impact in their community at the grassroots level,” she told the North Island Eagle.

So when the going gets tough, the tough get together to figure things out.

They’ll also be working with the Kwakiutl First Nation Health Department. The food hub will keep a strong focus on cultural humility and decolonization.

Through this project and eventually others, they hope to make food insecurity a non-issue in the area.

That means no more food deserts in Mount Waddington.

“We look to amplify work being done, and further create a healthy food system across the region by connecting and supporting community agencies, institutions, and volunteers to facilitate partnerships, education, and community action,” Dyck said.

The project is in its beginning stages for now. But now that they’ve got funding, it’s full steam ahead.