I talked with Taylor from Jasper Place Wellness Centre and Ashley from Food4Good about their programs that are aiding support to our Edmonton community. They pivoted their programming during COVID-19 to help fill the gap in food security.
We work with people and community-based assets from low-income and/or vulnerable neighborhoods to fill the systemic and socio-economic gaps they face in both an individual and a community-wide context. We do this through employment, food security, health care, new affordable housing, and community engagement. We build, own, and operate affordable housing, and own & operate several different businesses to employ community members that may have a hard time finding a job.
Food4Good is our approach to food security. We typically run low-cost markets and cooking classes for community members. When COVID hit, we changed our offering to supply emergency food hampers to west end community members who might need a helping hand to get through this time.
Food4Good started in 2013 by community members wanting to address the food access issues in the West End. It was a pop-up model for food activities and has since grown into a number of food security-focused programs including low-cost markets, community kitchens, youth nutrition, and education, and advocacy around access to good food.
We put our skills-based education programs on hold so that we could shift our attention to the food security issues that snowballed during COVID. A lot of people who access our programs are facing additional barriers right now from income loss, school closures, and social isolation.
Lots of community members with kids, now have them at home all day. I can't even tell you how many moms have told me they were so surprised by how much their kids ate!
We had to move very quickly to shift this program. We didn't have time to put together a big campaign. We run on a very tight budget as a not-for-profit.
Funders and individuals are generously donating to our hamper program. We’ve had tons of people packing and delivering hampers as well. A lot of the people donating are also, themselves, in some sort of complex situation.
A lot of stories and comments we are hearing from the community are along the lines of "we are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat".
Seeing our community step up and donate to the program has been so cool. They are making efforts where they can and it really warms my heart.
Our website has a donate button, these funds help us allow us to be more flexible in what we are purchasing. Monetary donations let us purchase foods at lower prices from our wholesale distributors. Our goal is to provide nutritious and culturally appropriate food, so items like canned vegetables, rice, beans, granola, peanut butter, lentils, etc. are always valuable donations.