The B.C. government has committed $3 million to the Victoria Foundation to improve access to fresh food for thousands of people who can’t regularly get it.
A big bulk of the money, $2 million, will be used to help purchase the Mustard Seed’s Food Security Distribution Centre. The centre is used as the hub to redistribute food across south Vancouver Island. It has been leased since 2017 and the purchase provides stability to the program.
“Connecting more people to healthy food will make a huge difference in the lives of so many families,” Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson said.
“This is a perfect example of how we can all work together to reduce poverty and make life better for British Columbians.”
The rest of the provincial funding will go to offer grants to organizations in B.C. for food security projects that can help low-income individuals and families.
There are approximately 50,000 people in the capital region that do not have reliable and regular access to quality, healthy, culturally appropriate, affordable food.
With this funding, the Victoria Foundation will be working local non-profits throughout B.C. to identify community-specific needs. More details on the fund will be available in late June 2019.
“Food security is central to the well-being of people, which makes it a priority for our region and the Province,” Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson said.
“The new Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund will help us build and support other programs like the Food Rescue Project, because better food creates healthier individuals, families and communities.”
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The Mustard Seed recovers about 1,815 kilograms of fresh food daily from local grocery stores and redistributes it to people in need. Right now, the organization helps feed 35,000 people in the capital region annually.
“The distribution centre will secure a permanent location for a food hub for the capital region,” Mustard Seed Street Church executive director Derek Pace said.
“Purchasing the building gives us the stability we need to continue growing the network of donors who provide food each week and to continue to support and participate in the Food Share Network made up of those groups who distribute food to people in their communities.”
The B.C. government says during poverty reduction consultations last year, food insecurity was identified as a concern in communities throughout B.C. One in six children under the age of 18 years lives in a household can’t get access to fresh and affordable food.