Integrating Approaches and Creating Community: How United Way’s Food Hub Model and SSCS are Strengthening Food Security in the Sea to Sky Corridor
Health and wellness are so much more than food, but they often begin there. Food can unite family and community. Farming, cooking, and eating together reduces social isolation, strengthens relationships, and offers safety. As food insecurity increases, so are the ways SSCS is working with the community to support this need. This past year, SSCS received funding from United Way British Columbia to work with community partners in support of food security through the Pemberton Food Hub.
“A food hub supports the community far beyond just food, it’s really about building connections and community,” said Kendahl Cardinal, Food Security Project Strategist at United Way of the Lower Mainland. “They offer gathering spaces, so sometimes people will come for food, but then onsite childcare will be offered so they can work on their resume with an Employment Support Specialist or receive medical support or a vaccine.”
The funding from United Way British Columbia enabled SSCS to work with community partners Qwal̓ímak Nlep̓cálten/Lil’wat Farm to produce and supply the Pemberton Food Bank and the SD48’s Breakfast and Lunch Program with locally grown nutritious food; with the Southern Stl’atl’imx Health Society to identify opportunities to decolonize local food practices and increase community gardening, traditional food practices, and engage youth; with School District 48 (Sea to Sky) to develop educational opportunities to grow culturally appropriate and indigenous foods in sustainable way. Looking forward to next year, SSCS will continue to work together with community partners to build a resilient, healthy, sustainable community.
The Pemberton Food Hub has shown to be a successful way of engaging with our community past the traditional charitable giving of food. Other ways that SSCS has advanced food security in the region this past year are:
- SSCS has been convening with regional stakeholders to gauge interest in intersectoral collaboration, focusing on the link between food security and positive outcomes in education, cultural safety, housing, employment, mental health and wellness and vice versa.
- We employed a systems change strategist and consultant (partially funded by the United Way) to facilitate a community consultation process.
- Another important component of our food security work has been to integrate conversations with our partners outside of the food security realm, such as Divisions of Family Practice, Employment BC, Vancouver Coastal Health, Foundry BC, and BC Housing. By including information and context from our other existing programs and partners we are able to clearly see where the need is, how to best engage the community, and work towards dismantling colonial approaches to food security.
Sea to Sky Community Services supports thousands of individuals to improve their physical and mental health, gain confidence and strengthen their skills, and envision and act on positive options for their lives. We know that food security is a critically important aspect of life that impacts this work.
This past year (2021-22), and with United Way’s support, we were able to increase our programming and integrate approaches through the Pemberton Food Hub. Over time, individuals and families in the Corridor will be able to explore ways to better support themselves and provide encouragement for others in their community.