For the second year, United Way British Columbia (United Way BC) awarded Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society (MWFLS) $100,000 for its regional community food hub project and $60,000 for School’s Out after-school programs.
“United Way BC is proud to partner with Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society through these investments in the community,” said Jasica Grewal, director, community impact & investment at United Way BC. “We believe that by investing in the Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society, we can create lasting positive change. Our partnership enables us to support their important work in increasing food security, promoting accessible after-school programs, and community engagement.
“This collaboration goes beyond financial support. It represents a commitment to working hand-in-hand with local organizations and community leaders to address the unique challenges faced by North Island communities. By empowering individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge, we are helping to unlock their full potential and create a brighter future for themselves and their families.”
One in three children live in poverty, one in five households are food insecure
“Our local poverty and food security statistics stress the needs of North Island communities to address food literacy and security, and to have access to free children’s programming – especially in our smallest and rural communities,” said Leslie Dyck, executive director at MWFLS. “Through the United Way BC Regional Community Food Hub, we can provide wrap-around service to contribute food resources in our programs and those of other organizations. We are so grateful for their continued support.”
Several studies and reports highlight the need for food security and free children’s programs that incorporate food in Mount Waddington Region:
• At 35.8 per cent, Mount Waddington Regional District has the second-highest poverty rate in BC. (2021 First Call Child Poverty Report Card)
• Mount Waddington region has a higher percentage of children vulnerable on MDI (Middle School Development Instrument) than the provincial average. Only 56 per cent of children get adequate nutrition and sleep compared to 67 per cent for all districts. Only 50 per cent of Grade 7 children get adequate nutrition and sleep versus 62 per cent for all districts.
• The BC Household food insecurity report 2016 shows one in five households with children in our region were food insecure, compared to one in 10 in B.C. households. The report shows that food insecurity negatively affects children’s growth, development, health, academic outcomes, mental health and social skills.
Community food hub increases access to nutritious food
The goal of the Mount Waddington United Way Regional Community Food Hub is to increase access to nutritious, culturally appropriate food.
The local food hub project is a partnership between the MWFLS and the Mount Waddington Community Food Initiative (MWCFI), two organizations which have a history of supporting food security and community projects.
The food hub facilitates partnerships, enhances programming, builds human capacity, and facilitates food security operations in the Mount Waddington Region. It will amplify work being done, and connect and support community agencies, institutions, and volunteers to facilitate partnerships, education, and community action.
United Way School’s Out supports children’s health and connections
In 2022-23, MWFLS started United Way School’s Out programs in five small North Island communities of under 1,000 people that don’t have the same access to sports, clubs or other organized after-school activities.
School’s Out programs supported 44 children in Coal Harbour, Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations, Kwakiutl First Nation, Port Alice and Sointula.
The free, registered after-school programs for children aged 6-12 incorporate food preparation, life skills, crafts, culture, games and exploring their community resources. Each session includes a nutrient-dense snack and weaves health and mental health resources into program activities.
The United Way School’s Out funds provide food, activity supplies, and five part-time program coordinator jobs within the community.