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Nelson food centre plans greater outreach

A group heavily involved in local food security issues says it will try harder to reach people who could benefit from their services, but are not presently using them.

It’s one of the priorities contained in the Nelson Community Food Centre’s strategic plan for 2022-26.

“Some people living with adversity don’t want to come to a food bank or a food skills class,” says community relations manager Andrew Creighton. “Sometimes it’s difficult to reach those folks.”

He says they are proposing to partner with other organizations who have access to or connections with those people, such as schools. For example, they may work with principals to determine which families might benefit most from kids cooking classes. They are already working with the Nelson Committee on Homelessness to distribute food to people living at the North Shore Inn who don’t have kitchens.

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“It’s reaching out and not expecting people to come to us,” he says. “Taking a proactive approach to finding people who might benefit from our programs.”

The food centre offers four key programs: a food bank, food skills training, harvest rescue that picks unwanted fruit, and an on-site garden. The strategic plan calls for all of those things to continue.

Creighton says they achieved all their objectives from their previous strategic plan, except for improvements to their kitchen in the basement of the United Church, a project that is still underway. They are continuing to accept donations for that work, as supply chain issues have made things more expensive and time consuming.

The last plan identified ways to increase the amount of food they acquire, grow, and produce. From 2015-20, they grew 11,582 pounds worth in their garden and gleaned 58,461 pounds of fruit from local trees. They also served 57,000 household members in that period. “That’s quite an accomplishment,” Creighton says.

The organization, which was previously known as the Nelson Food Cupboard, is also part of Food Centres Canada, a 13-member national network.

The new plan was developed with help from the Columbia Basin Trust’s non-profit advisory group.

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