Local groups get funding to bolster food security

East Kootenay Community Eats Project hopes to envelop the entire cycle of food, from planting and harvesting to processing and consuming.

  • Aug. 1, 2013 6:00 p.m.

Food security in the East Kootenay recently got a healthy serving of $15,000 per year, for three years to the Cranbrook Food Action Committee and Wildsight Kimberley/Cranbrook.

The funds are a piece of a $60,000 pie dished out by Interior Health Authority through the Community Food Action Initiative. The funds are being divided between Cranbrook/Kimberley, Nelson, Kamloops and Canoe/Dog Creek.

The East Kootenay Community Eats Project, proposed by the Cranbrook Food Action Committee and Wildsight Kimberley/Cranbrook, is a food security initiative that hopes to envelop the entire cycle of food, from planting and harvesting to processing and consuming, while increasing collaboration among individuals, organizations, communities, and local government.

“One of the really exciting things it’s going to do is encourage a lot more working together between Cranbrook and Kimberley on food security,” said Shannon Duncan, communication coordinator for the Cranbrook Public Produce Garden.  “That’s going to be a really big focus.”

Duncan said the dual organization partnership will be working on developing a community commercial kitchen in Cranbrook.

“It’s a big project, but we’re going to be laying the ground work,” she said. “In Kimberley, we’ll be creating a similar type space (to the produce garden) using what’s been learned in Cranbrook.”

They are also looking at starting a midweek farmers’ market in Kimberley.

“Those are the three main pieces of it,” she said. “It’s a three-year funding, which is nice because it gives us some leverage to look for extra funding, because some of those projects are pretty big.

“It’s also nice because we know we can work on it for three years in a row.”

To do all of those things, she said it will take a lot of community involvement, along with some events to get people involved and get feedback. She hopes to see as much of the community involved in the process as possible.

“The first event will be in September and we’re going to be having a 100-mile feast,” she said. “We’re just working out the finer details on that, but that will be a fun kick-off to it. We’re actually going to hold that at the Cranbrook Community Produce Garden.”

There is no date set yet for the feast.

“We’re really happy to have got the funding and to be able to work on more projects for food security here,” she said. “We’re having some exciting things happen and it’s nice to be able to build on it.”

Rose Soneff, community nutritionist, with Interior Health said food security is about making sure everybody has easy access to healthy, affordable and locally grown foods. Soneff works in Interior Health’s Food Security and Community Nutrition program.

“Achieving food security is a team effort – communities, businesses, organizations and governments all have an important role to play and that is why we are pleased to be able to support these exciting projects,” Soneff said.

She said the funding increases the community’s ability to contribute to the growth and development of their local food system and focuses on current food security activities as well as future food security planning.

“The funding can be viewed as seed money – it is aimed at long-term sustainable projects that will continue beyond the three-year period,” said Soneff. “

Health Minister Terry Lake said the Interior is fortunate to have access to a strong local agricultural community, but added “there remain barriers to access (them). Access to a healthy diet is crucial to maintaining good health, so this funding will help grow local health as well as local food production.”

For more information on the projects, or to get involved, contact Duncan at 250-427-7981 or cranbrookfood@gmail.com, or Jessica Windle in Kimberley at jessica@wildsight.ca.