Upon our return to schools in early April, classroom teachers and school staff in the Gulf Islands played a vital role in connecting families in need with food cards generously donated by Country Grocer and other donors. The Salt Spring Island Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Relief Grant program coordinates this work with various organizations on-island. During April and May, about 200 people in over 65 families have been provided food cards by the school district staff through this initiative.
When teachers returned to work remotely with students in early April, the first contact with families was to check-in with families. The simple query, “How are you doing?” helped to identify families that would benefit from support for food, mental health or isolation, and learning. The query revealed that many families were concerned about providing their family with the food that they needed. The program has now been running for six weeks, and the feedback from the couple of hundred individuals supported with the food card program has been overwhelmingly positive. People have remarked that they never expected to receive this kind of support but that it has come at just the right time. In addition to helping with food security for families, the food cards have also helped to re-engage families with the school and remote learning.
The graph indicates that the initial need was quite high and has now declined to about a quarter of the initial need. This likely corresponds with the arrival of federal and provincial income supports as well as the re-opening of our community and local economy.
Given that schools will close for summer in about four weeks, families who anticipate needing additional food support are encouraged to contact one of the following:
- Farmers Market Nutritional Coupon Program (FMNCP) – Sign up by visiting: https://harvestsaltspring.ca/programs/harvest-market/
- The Food Bank is online! Visit: http://saltspringcommunityservices.ca/foodsecurity/food-bank/
- Weekly Meal Delivery Service can be accessed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please request Meal Deliveries, and include your name, number of people in your household, list any food allergies, and where you heard about us.
Those wishing to make a donation to the COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Relief Fund can visit one of the websites above, or contact the Salt Spring Island Foundation at https://ssifoundation.ca.
In BC our actions to avoid wide-spread infections from the pandemic have been very successful. There has been a cost associated with these initial actions – the temporary closure of businesses, people out of work, and an increase in family isolation. Fortunately, a strong public response is supporting families through these challenging times. Thanks again to school staff, Country Grocer, donors from the community, and the Salt Spring Island Foundation for their rapid and effective response.