On the two-year anniversary of the opening of the Link Food Centre, one of its newest services looks to do more than just provide food.
The Link celebrated the one-year anniversary of its food bank at its Centre St. location last year on Nov. 29.
The Link’s Community Connection Program runs several forms of support for clients of the food bank, including employment training, food security, child care services and referrals to other services.
“The program hopes to reduce social isolation and stigma while improving health outcomes and building more resilient communities throughout the Lakes District,” as Scott Zayac, Executive Director of the Lakes District Family Enhancement Society (LDFES) told Lakes District News. The LDFES operates the food bank.
One of the aims of the Community Connection Program is to give clients the capabilities to move beyond dependency on the food bank.
“A lot of folks have part-time jobs, so helping them get more employable and working on those soft skills. There’s opportunities at the food bank for more training opportunities. And we want to eventually reach out to employers and maybe do some job shadowing or job placements to hopefully lead to employment,” Zayac explained.
The program’s mission to combat social stigma and isolation comes through in its efforts to build community.
“The way we do our food delivery it’s a warm and welcoming environment. There’s a hot meal provided. Our community garden is all about building community. We have expert gardeners who volunteer their time. It’s a welcoming space for people to gather and share a meal. Frankly, there are a lot of people out there who don’t feel like they’re a part of the community.”
However, Zayac said the food bank still serves a very important role in Burns Lake, and the amount of donated food shows the scale of the need.
“We just did reporting on all the food donated last year. It’s weighed and based on the calculation it was worth $300,000 for the whole year. For a small community that’s astounding,” he said.
The Community Connection Program’s efforts have been boosted by the $99,947 the LDFES received from the Rural Dividend grant in January.
That funding also helps The Link operate its Mobile Food Centre that takes food as far away as Grassy Plains, Topley, Granisle and Tachet.