While for many Canadians the thought of going hungry seems like something that simply couldn’t happen in Canada, according to About Hunger in Canada the truth is that over 850,000 Canadians turn to their local food bank for assistance every month. Thirteen percent of Canadians struggle with food insecurity.
Food insecurity presents many issues to families including putting children at risk for poor health, as well as development issues. Food insecurity has been tied to poor academic success as well as providing social barriers to those affected by food insecurity, and those who are from low income families are less likely to be able to afford to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.
Regardless of where you live, there are programs that are available to help you. If you have come to this post from a region other than Nanaimo I hope that the suggestions here provide you with a jumping off point for your own investigations.
The following is a short list of locations where you can go to receive help with food.
Loaves and Fishes Food Bank
Loaves and Fishes Food Bank is doing their part to help alleviate hunger in Nanaimo through the operation of their food recovery program. The food recovery program collects food from five grocery stores daily and the food bank runs donation programs where community members can donate cash or food directly to the food bank.
Visitors to the food bank can receive one hamper every two weeks, though they also have the opportunity to receive a Food 4 U hamper consisting of bread, fruit and vegetables four times a week depending on the amount of perishable items that the food bank takes in the day before. Loaves and Fishes currently has nine locations that you can choose from. Be sure to check out their website for a schedule of locations, days and times.
Nanaimo Food Share Society
Nanaimo food share has a variety of programs available to the public. One of my favourites is through their partnership with the BC Farmer’s Market Coupon Program. Participants receive coupons weekly at the Beban Park Farmer’s Market for $15 in fruit, vegetables and/or protein. You can save your coupons up, or use them every week. The program prioritizes first time recipients for receipt of the vouchers, but past recipients should apply too!
This year’s BC Farmer’s Market Coupon Program application date is May 26, 2017. Interested families should contact Nanaimo Food Share for an application.
In addition to the BC Farmer’s Market Coupon Program, the Nanaimo Food Share Society also offers a monthly good food box for $10 a month. These boxes can contain up to 75 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables which is a great deal! For more information view their website here.
Harewood Centennial Park – Day Camp
Not only does the City of Nanaimo offer a free playground program where kids aged 5-12 can participate in fun activities daily from 10-3:30, kids also have the opportunity to bring home an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden, and from the generous donations of local farmers. In past years Loaves and Fishes foodbank has been on site once a week to provide the children with a hamper to bring home with them too! For more information on summer programs through the City of Nanaimo check out their Summer Leisure Guide.
Nanaimo’s Free Food Group – Facebook
If you are hungry, or have extra food that you won’t eat check out the Nanaimo Free Food Group on Facebook. The group has hamper options from time to time, and also does hampers at Christmas time.
St. Vincent de Paul Society
The St. Vincent de Paul Society will help with food supplies, and will often present families with a $25 gift card to buy perishable items. This emergency hamper is available once every three months.
As the days get warmer many farmers offer work co-ops that in exchange for helping pick weeds, or harvest crops, volunteers can bring home a bag of fresh fruit and vegetables. This is a great way to receive some fresh produce direct from the farmers!
If there are other resources that are available to Nanaimo residents please let me know! I will do my best to update this list with changes as they happen.