Keith Starling hosts the Food Bank Garden at Take to Heart Mill north of Revelstoke on Westside Road in 2018. Community Connections is taking what they have learned from gardens like these in the creation of their own 
community garden. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)

Keith Starling hosts the Food Bank Garden at Take to Heart Mill north of Revelstoke on Westside Road in 2018. Community Connections is taking what they have learned from gardens like these in the creation of their own community garden. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)

Community Connections receives funding for new food bank garden

The food bank garden will be a gethering and learning space for members of the comunity

Community Connections Revelstoke Society plans to build a community food bank garden with the help of funding received from Loblaw and Food Banks Canada.

According to Melissa Hemphill, food security coordinator with Community Connections, the space will not only be a place to grow food, but also a gathering space for clients to meet up, have conversations, work together in the garden and learn things about gardening.

Food Banks Canada says 40 per cent of foods distributed by Canadian food banks is fresh.

The money received from Loblaw and Food Banks Canada will help purchase a community greenhouse, soil, irrigation system, food preservation equipment, and other tools needed to operate the food bank garden.

“Providing Canadians with fresh, quality food is critical to our mission,” said Kirstin Beardsley, CEO of Food Banks Canada in a press release. “With these grants we are able to take another important step in supporting local communities by providing food banks with the critical infrastructure and capacity they need to continue their great work and we appreciate Loblaw helping to make this happen.”

The proposed community garden is yet another tool that they can use to battle food insecurity in Revelstoke. In May of this year, Community Connections opened the Neighbourhood Kitchen at their Outreach Building, a shared kitchen space to make ready-to-eat meals for those in need and to be rented out to food entrepreneurs in the community.

Programs at the Neighborhood Kitchen, like the Food Recovery Program, take food which would otherwise go to waste, like mis-shapen vegetables, from local vendors and turn it into meals for those who experience food insecurity.

“The whole building is becoming a bit of a food hub in the community, with a focus on vulnerable citizens and food insecure households for sure,” said Hemphill.

The garden will be designed with the needs of those with accessibility issues in mind, and will be fully accessible fr those who are challenged with mobility.

A new report from Food Banks Canada indicates the number of people using food banks across the country surged to an all-time high earlier this year, with high inflation and low social assistance rates cited as key factors in the rise.

The annual report said there were nearly 1.5 million visits to food banks nation-wide in March of this year (2022), a figure that was 15 per cent higher than the number of visits in the same month last year (2021) and 35 per cent higher than visits in March 2019.

Hemphill said the Revelstoke Food Bank is seeing 25 to 35 new clients every month, which is not a ‘normal’ rate.

“We’ve had consistent high numbers, with a peak in August and staying up near that peak as we carry through the fall,” said Hemphill.

She added many of the folks using the local food bank are newcomers to Canada that have come to Revelstoke to work and are struggling to afford to live in the community.

Hemphill noted that the rising cost of food not only makes it more difficult for people to be able to put food on their own tables, but also restricts the amount of extra food people may have to donate to the food bank. Community Connections also purchases food through monetary donations, and as food costs rise, the amount they’re able to purchase becomes more limited.

Community Connections is always looking for volunteers to help support their various programs. Their 5th annual Soupalicious Event is coming up Nov. 26, and they still require more volunteers to help the event run smoothly.

To get involved with Community Connections, visit community-connections.ca or connect with Hemphill at mhemphill@community-connections.ca.

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@josh_piercey
josh.piercey@revelstokereview.com

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