Local food banks receive federal funding

Four Sunshine Coast organizations are splitting more than $80,000 from the federal government’s Emergency Fund for Food Security.

West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky MP Patrick Weiler made the announcement in a Sept. 15 online meeting with representatives from some of the agencies in the riding that will benefit from the money.

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The local recipients were the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society, which was given $40,000, the Sunshine Coast Food Bank, which received $21,600, the Salvation Army, which got $16,000, and the Pender Harbour Community School Society, which was granted $5,000.

The balance of the total $299,337 in funding earmarked for the riding will go to similar groups in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Speaking during the online funding announcement, Carey Rumba from Community Services said that when the pandemic first hit, the organization remodelled its food bank and started a “food and essentials hotline.”

“I'm using some of the funding and distributing food to isolated, quarantined people who were also just fearful to get out in the community,” he said. “We had a team of volunteers and staff up and down the coast delivering food.”

Rumba said some of the other initiatives supported by the funding included the partnership with local restaurants that led to the Sunshine Coast Food Service Response and working with the shíshálh Nation, School District No. 46, and “meeting those vulnerable isolated people in our community.”

Darrell Pilgrim of the Salvation Army was also in the online meeting and said the funding has helped his food bank set up a delivery service and “strengthen our community partnerships with other food security programs across the Coast.”

Pilgrim said he believes those stronger partnerships will have benefits moving forward as the local organizations coordinate on how to serve the community and pool resources.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, more than 1,800 food banks and local food organizations across Canada have been helped by the $100-million fund so far.

“COVID-19 has significantly increased food insecurity of the most vulnerable members of our community and has placed increased demands on the operation of organizations working to address this critical issue right across the country,” Weiler said in a release that accompanied the online event.

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