A Trail Community Skills Centre hot-meal project is providing sustenance to area residents in a time they need it most.
The “Bringing Community to Your Door” program delivers a weekly hot meal to low income residents, while also offering support and a vital link to the community.
“The intense economic uncertainty that followed COVID-19 left the most vulnerable members of our communities feeling even more isolated and financially bound,” said Jennifer Tynan, Skills Centre project specialist.
“When we shifted from what was known as ‘Community Kitchens’ to ‘Bringing Community to Your Door,’ it has really opened my eyes to just how many people in the community are in need and I think we quite often forget or don’t recognize that our neighbour might be in need.”
The new program launched prior to COVID-19 but evolved quickly from Community Kitchens in-person program to a hot meal-delivery and support service.
Since revamping the program 10 months ago due to the pandemic, the demand for meals has grown steadily.
“In January 2021, we were able to deliver 156 meals,” said Tynan. “In February, this number rose to 241 and I think we will do just over 270 for March.”
The increase can be attributed to both a growing awareness of the program as well as growing poverty in the Greater Trail community.
Yet, the meal program is not only about hunger, but also the effects poverty and the pandemic have on one’s physical and mental health.
Pandemic caused food security is becoming a major concern for communities, when unemployment and isolation is high. Many participants are seniors, who find cooking to be expensive and often exhausting. Others are single-parent or low-income families, who have lost jobs or are unable to make a living wage.
Having a hot meal and a connection to a support system has made a big difference.
“Obviously it’s nice that the recipients are receiving a healthy, home-cooked meal, but so many people when they are living in poverty are also living in isolation, whether it’s physically or emotionally feeling disconnected from the community.
“Our coordinator has the opportunity to go in, talk to participants, and provide them with any resources they might need.”
The program runs in Rossland, Warfield, Trail, and Beaver Valley and is a challenging but welcome task.
The coordinator, Naomi Mitchell, oversees the process and support worker Brittany Page helps prepare more than 60 meals per week in the kitchen at the Trail United Church, then they deliver the meals and offer supports to families and individuals accessing the program.
“They manage to do it and do it well,” said Tynan. “I just feel as the program continues to build out and to raise awareness, and more people are getting involved as participants, I’m seeing it’s really hard to say no when someone is in need.”
The feedback from participants has been positive. Bringing Community to Your Door gives participants something to look forward to and a glimmer of hope in an unprecedentedly bleak time.
“It is often the only home-cooked meal a participant may eat. For young families in the program, it offers a reprieve from groceries for the family that night.”
Volunteers are welcome and can contact the Skills Centre for more information. Or, go online to the website thrivingforall.com. Click the initiatives tab then the link, “Bringing Community to Your Door.”
Donations of food and funds are also appreciated.
“Working in nonprofits, funding is always the biggest challenge. We secured some funding for the project and with the onset of COVID we really saw food security became such a big issue,” added Tynan. “The realities of food insecurity I’d like to see exposed, and to see it (the program) continue and continue to grow.”
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