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United Way Food Hub coming to the Mount Waddington region

United Way British Columbia (United Way BC) has awarded $100,000 for the creation of a Community Food Hub in the region of Mount Waddington.
A new United Way community food hub will improve food security and food literacy with Kwakwaka’wakw ways of knowing. Many hands working to uncover veggies in the Kwakiutl Pit Cook in Tsaxis. (Photo by Caitlin Hartnett)

United Way British Columbia (United Way BC) has awarded $100,000 for the creation of a Community Food Hub in the region of Mount Waddington.

“B.C. 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,” says Kim Winchell, Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives at United Way British Columbia. “As the pandemic evolves, food insecurity continues to rise across our province. 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.”

The local food hub project is a partnership between the Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society (MWFLS) and the Mount Waddington Community Food Initiative (MWCFI), two organizations which have a history of supporting food security and community projects.

In 2020, with increased support from the United Way BC, MWFLS became more involved in food security, and became a local leader responding to increased food security needs across the region with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It used the existing food network and worked closely with the MWCFI to identify and respond to emergent changes in the food system.

“Currently, the Mount Waddington Community Food Initiative (also known as Island Health Food Security Networking Hub) is driven by a network of partners who are passionate about improving food security for communities in the region,” said Leslie Dyck, MWFLS Executive Director, MWCFI Coordinator and food hub project steward. “The need for and commitment to the network has evolved over the last seven years. 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 and see the value of networking within the region with others who have similar goals.”

Other partners include the Kwakiutl First Nation Health Department, North Island Building Blocks and the Mount Waddington Health Network. The food hub project will have an approach of cultural humility and decolonization, and staff will participate in training in cultural sensitivity, safety, humility and Kwakwaka’wakw ways of knowing.

“Through United Way BC’s generous funding for the development of a United Way Food Hub, we plan to facilitate partnerships, enhance programming, build human capacity, and facilitate food security operations in the Mount Waddington Region,” she said. “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.”

Goals and objectives this year are to:

1. Determine the scope and reach of the project in year one and subsequent years.

2. Create an up-to-date list of where emergency food is being accessed through more formal processes.

3. Perform a survey of available emergency food services.

4. Conduct and document ongoing assessment of food security needs and assets in the region.

5. Develop a resilient and sustained leadership team through establishing a community of practice.

6. Increase awareness about the Mount Waddington Community Food Hub and its programs and resources.

7. Increase food literacy skills for a broad range of learners.

8. Develop a sustainable and resilient region-wide food network.

The Mount Waddington Family Literacy Society works with communities, schools and organizations to support literacy and learning for all ages on North Vancouver Island.

United Way British Columbia serves over four million British Columbians, delivering resources and support to the people who need it most.

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