The B.C. government announced Tuesday a $3 million grant to the Victoria Foundation to help improve food security for those living in poverty. (Keri Coles/News staff)

$3M grant to bolster food security for Victorians living in poverty

Grant to help purchase food distribution centre, support food security projects for low-income

The health of nearly 50,000 people in the CRD and around half a million people province-wide is regularly affected by not having reliable access to quality, healthy, culturally appropriate and affordable food. The B.C. government is looking to turn the tides on those figures, announcing Tuesday a $3 million grant to the Victoria Foundation to help improve food security for those living in poverty.

“Connecting more people to healthy food will make a huge difference in the lives of so many families,” said Shane Simpson, minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

RELATED: B.C. introduces poverty reduction plan to cut child poverty by 50 per cent

Up to $2 million is earmarked to help purchase the Mustard Seed’s Food Security Distribution Centre. The 13,500 sq. foot warehouse is used to store non-perishable food, and to sort, clean, and “rescue” perishable food from grocers and large retailers in the community before redistributing the food across south Vancouver Island. The building has been leased since 2017, and the purchase will provide long-term stability for the program.

The Mustard Seed recovers and redistributes about 1,815 kilograms of fresh food daily from local grocery stores, helping to feed 35,000 food insecure people in the capital region annually.

Derek Pace, executive director of Mustard Seed Street Church, said the purchase of the Distribution Centre not only helps ensure that the Food Rescue Project remains sustainable, but also allows the centre to “enable the community’s larger vision for food security, growing programs in food literacy, employment, environmental sustainability and the local food systems.”

RELATED: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

The remainder of the funds will be used to offer grants, through the new Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund, to organizations in B.C. for food security projects that can help low-income individuals and families.

“Food security is central to the well-being of people, which makes it a priority for our region and the Province,” said Sandra Richardson, CEO, Victoria Foundation. “The new Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund will help us build and support other programs like the Food Rescue Project, because better food creates healthier individuals, families and communities.”

RELATED: Herowork to transform Victoria’s Mustard Seed locations, improve food services

Simpson said B.C.’s poverty rate is the highest in Canada with an estimated 678,000 people living in poverty, including 118,000 children.

The provincial government has introduced a poverty reduction plan aimed at reducing the provincial poverty rate by 25 per cent and cutting the child poverty rate by 50 per cent over the next five years.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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