Columbia Valley Food and Farm (CVFF) is currently working on a food security resource titled Nourish Columbia Valley – a guide to community food supports. “Our aim with the guide is for it to be a valuable resource for those providing support to vulnerable people and, equally, to those in need of support,” said CVFF’s Chair, Alison Bell.
The project got underway this past winter when concerns over the precarious nature of food chains were raised across Canada. “It became clear that the level of food insecurity would rise with loss of income due to job loss, and the Columbia Valley was, and is, no different,” said Bell.
The roots of the project began in April when community organizations supporting food security came together and took action to implement and deliver a twelve-week community meal program. 150 meals were delivered twice weekly, and in the process, a working partnership was created between Columbia Valley Food and Farm, Family Dynamix, Columbia Valley Food Bank, Shuswap Band, Aquisknuk First Nation, Columbia Valley Metis Association, and the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“In the initial planning of the meal program, and in identifying those most food insecure in our communities, we experienced obstacles when trying to identify the best person within each organization or community to contact,” Bell said. The time spent developing partnerships and identifying contacts within organizations and communities created a time lag and “prevented us from helping many of those in immediate need. At that moment, the idea for a simple resource to bring us together and help to resolve this issue was born.”
The resource will include a section for new Canadians as well as a chapter devoted to Indigenous foodways – a term to describe how a group of people source their food and how they eat. “Part of being a food secure community is the ability to provide a source of culturally appropriate foods,” said Bell. To finance the project, Columbia Valley Food and Farm applied for and won the Plan H Community Connectedness Grant from Interior Health with additional support from School District #6. By the end of June, the resource will be published online and made widely available as a hard copy.
The reality is that we are not anywhere close to being food secure in the Columbia Valley. Nonetheless, a thought-provoking question is: could we be? “People have romantic notions that we can live on the so called hundred-mile diet, but in reality, we’ve been trading foodstuffs since the beginning of time,” said Bell. “There’s always going to be trade and import and export.” That doesn’t mean we can become more food secure. “In the last ten years, we’ve seen an increase in food production.” There’s been an explosion in home gardens this past year in response to the pandemic.
James Rose, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer