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Hello Reach program delivers nutrition education to those facing barriers in Halifax

Click to play video: 'National AccessAbility Week celebrates success of food security program' National AccessAbility Week celebrates success of food security program
For National AccessAbility Week, we check in Chelsea Coffin of reachAbility to learn more about a new program called Hello Reach!, the food security program run at reachAbility. Chelsea tells us how Hello Reach! is ensuring the community stays, not only fed, but educated on nutrition while on a budget – May 31, 2021

A Halifax-based non-profit is taking inspiration from a national food delivery service to ensure its clients are well fed, educated on nutrition and sticking to their budget.

Non-profit reachAbility launched its newest program, Hello Reach in February to help those who rely on their services become better cooks. With food insecurity a growing problem for many since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Hello Reach provides reachAbility’s clients in the Halifax Regional Municipality with confidence in the kitchen and confidence that they are preparing healthy meals for themselves and their household.

“Essentially, it’s a food security service that we run for the HRM,” says reachAbility coordinator Chelsea Coffin. “We’ve helped over 50 clients but of course those clients have households, partners, roommates, children, so we know that those recipes, those food boxes, are being put to good use.”

Nova Scotia has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in Canada and Food Banks Canada has reported a 20 to 50 per cent increase in demand for food donations in some regions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

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“It’s a huge deal,” Coffin says. “Food security within the HRM has been a big deal even before the pandemic. … Then the pandemic hit and not only were people losing food security, but they were losing a … sense of community.”

The staff of reachAbility hope that implementing outreach programs like Hello Reach will bring that sense of community back to its clients.

“We’re helping build that community back up by involving people in something like this where you can get together with your roommate or your partner or your children and cook these fresh meals,” she says.

ReachAbility is a non-profit organization based out of Halifax that provides supportive and accessible programs to individuals facing barriers to inclusion and community participation. Their services are free and include employment, housing, mental health and wellness.

Tova Sherman, reachAbility’s co-founder and CEO, recently told Global News that one of the organization’s principles is to speak for those who don’t always have a voice.

“We specialize in the people that fall between the cracks. So if not us, who? We’re always coming up with what’s needed and we believe no one should fall into the dark,” Sherman says.

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READ MORE: Halifax non-profit ensuring accessibility, inclusion during COVID-19

Jacob Cuvelier, a business development specialist with reachAbility who is also known as Chef Jacob to Hello Reach users, works with a nutritionist to pick a new recipe each week. The ingredients are delivered to participants’ residences and an instructional video hosted by Chef Jacob is posted to the Hello Reach website as a step-by-step guide to making the meal.

“It’s just a really wonderful thing that’s come about and it’s built a really awesome sense of community since we’ve launched in February,” Coffin says.

Each health-conscious recipe is designed with comfort in mind. The team at reachAbility sees it as a way to boost mental wellness for the program’s users as well as physical well-being. Comfort food recipes include creamy fettuccine, stuffed chicken breast, lemon butter salmon, stir-fry and fajita bowls. Anyone can access these videos and recipes online through the reachAbility website.

Coffin says the team at reachAbility plans to continue the Hello Reach food delivery program for as long as they can.

“We are a not-for-profit, so as long as we have the funding, I think we’ve had such an amazing outcome and such positive feedback that I can’t see us stopping any time soon.”

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