Community organizations will have better infrastructure to offer people healthy food
Sept. 28, 2023
VANCOUVER – People living on low incomes and struggling to put food on the table will have better access to nutritious food with a provincial investment of $14 million into the Critical Food Infrastructure Fund for local community organizations.
“We all want people to have the support and services they need to get healthy, nutritious food on the table,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “We are acting on what we’ve heard from many communities and organizations, that they need better infrastructure to be able to get fresh food to people in need when grocery stores donate their extra food.”
The Critical Food Infrastructure Fund, administered by United Way British Columbia, will provide grants to food infrastructure projects from local organizations to increase their capacity to provide nutritious and culturally appropriate food to the people who need it.
Charitable organizations, including non-profit groups, social enterprises, co-operatives, Indigenous organizations and First Nations can apply for $5,000 to $100,000 in funding.
The applications are open until Nov. 20, 2023. Infrastructure projects, such as warehouse storage space and equipment, refrigerated vehicles to transport food, and equipment to preserve and process food for an extended shelf life, are eligible for funding.
“Every community in our province has unique food needs,” said Kim Winchell, provincial director, community impact and investment, United Way British Columbia. “By supporting community-led infrastructure projects to increase year-round access and availability of nourishing and culturally appropriate foods, we can help communities become more resilient and ensure vulnerable children and families have the food they need when they need it. United Way BC is grateful to work with the Province of British Columbia on this vital investment.”
Food insecurity has increased because of inflation, supply-chain issues and climate emergencies that interrupt food supply and production. This investment addresses the diverse challenges faced by local community groups and First Nations, strengthening food security for everyone.
To access information about how to apply for funding: https://uwbc.ca/programs/grants/
United Way British Columbia: https://uwbc.ca
TogetherBC, B.C.’s poverty reduction strategy: https://gov.bc.ca/togetherbc
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
What people are saying about the Critical Food Infrastructure Fund
George Chow, MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview –
“Local groups understand the needs of our communities and do such valuable work. This fund will go a long way to help community organizations create long-term solutions to meet the demand for their services for more healthy food and better programming. I look forward to seeing the good results of this funding!”
Sonja Everson, lead spoke volunteer, Peace Church –
“Having more cold storage would mean we can host more community dinners for South Vancouver Food Hub families. It would also increase our collective capacity to build more relationships and support neighbours with holistic services.”
Sharon Dong, director, CityReach Care Society – Food For Families –
“With additional infrastructure, we would be able to sustainably rescue more food to support the growing needs of our community partners and community members. We do not lack food in Canada; we lack the infrastructure to efficiently get the surplus food to the vulnerable families in need.”
Valerie Lai, program manager – Outreach, Family and Children Programs, Pacific Immigrant Resources Society –
“With more support for food infrastructure, we can support more families with food access and do more food skills programming for both women and children so that they can cook healthy meals together.”
Jayne Fenrich and James Boutin Crawford, lead spoke volunteers, St. Thomas Anglican Church –
“With more support for infrastructure, there could be more education on how to cook nutritious meals and take care of ourselves. It would help alleviate the barriers of commuting to access food, especially for those experiencing health issues and illness. It would help us focus on building relationships and reciprocity with our neighbours.”
Michelle Reining, executive director, Vancouver Food Runners –
“Infrastructure problems are front and centre for the majority of our non-profit partners, and we see this on a daily basis. At Vancouver Food Runners, more than 90% of the food we deliver is fresh, and more than 45% is produce, but we regularly encounter non-profits not having enough space nor the fridges and freezers to store surplus food to use in their food programming.”
Prabhi Deol, community navigator, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House –
“During Travis’ 2SLGBTQIA+ barbecue last year, I spoke with an Indigenous mom with an elementary school-aged daughter who says she goes by bus to Mount Pleasant neighbourhood and Commercial Drive for organic food and specialty items because those choices are limited in South Van.”
Cherry Wong, community navigator, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House –
“South Vancouver is always seen as a food desert. There’s basically nothing from 54th all the way down to the Fraser River. It is very challenging for folks to get food, which is a basic human need and right. More food infrastructure and amenities are needed right now to address this equity issue.”
Joey Liu, food security manager, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House –
“One of the challenges we are facing is the serious lack of available and affordable space and infrastructure in South Vancouver. With an increase in investment and infrastructure, the South Vancouver Food Hub could relocate to a more permanent space built for food-security programming, so we can sustainably provide the food access that residents need. It would also help us bring the community together to grow more grocery stores, gardens, food programs and community partners across the region so we can transform South Vancouver from a food desert into an oasis.”
Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction