Food is the great connector, and at Mission Services, it’s been an integral part of supporting our neighbours in need during the pandemic.
“The quote ‘no one should have to choose between food and rent’ has never been more evident than now, as we continue to navigate through the pandemic,” says Susan Smith, Director of Food Services. Many people have lost their jobs and found themselves newly without income. School-aged children who would normally participate in meal and snack programs are staying home. These are just some of the factors increasing food needs in our community.
Despite all this, food continues to be a vital part of our programs, bringing our neighbours together, even when we have to stay apart. In order to enhance staff and community safety and assist with food insecurity our Good Food Centre (GFC) has increased distribution to ten days worth of food. This allows individuals to safely remain at home for longer periods of time.
Many families are greatly appreciative of the amount of food we’re able to provide them, with one family exclaiming “there’s more!?” when staff brought out their groceries.
Marginally housed women look forward to coming to Willow’s Place to pick up their meals-to-go. It gives them a chance to engage with our support workers and still feel like a part of our community.
Our Good Food Centre saw a 25% increase in individuals accessing emergency food assistance in 2020
“My mobility and health have made getting around to haul groceries very difficult for me at times. It is so nice to know there is a hot, nutritious meal available at Willow’s when you’re short on money for healthy food. This is something I look forward to. I cannot wait to dine in community again, but for now I am happy with my take-out meal. I hope that the chef keeps up the great work and keeps providing us with delicious, wholesome meals!” – D.C.
Our 196 Program Coordinator does weekly drop-offs of snacks and meal ingredients to support youth who cannot access meal programs. The families often tell our Coordinator how the packs are making a difference in their home. “We love the snack packs. We get stuff that I don’t normally buy due to finances. My kids can try new things and the food activities are always a hit. My kids are always asking ‘what do we get to do today?’”
And as always, Food Services continues to provide emergency food hampers to women leaving Inasmuch House as well as individuals securing housing through our Housing Up! Program. This makes food one less thing they need to worry about while they settle into their new homes.
Over the last year, 1,500 new families have accessed the Good Food Centre.
“Providing food to our community means less financial and emotional drain on people who are already experiencing other negative effects of the pandemic. For those at our shelters and Willow’s Place, having access to good food reduces their anxiety, allowing them to focus on meeting other needs,” says Susan Smith.
It is important, now more than ever, that we do what we can to keep our community fed and safe.
As the pandemic persists, the need at the GFC continues to grow, and we know there will be longer lines for food than ever before. You can ensure our neighbours have access to good food! Please host a food drive or give generously today at: mission-services.com/donate
To read our full Winter 2021 newsletter, click here.