Building pathways out of poverty

A couple of years ago, Linda came to the food bank confused, alone and sick, weighing only 80 pounds.

A couple of years ago, Linda came to the food bank confused, alone and sick, weighing only 80 pounds. She had left a toxic relationship and was facing grave medical concerns having been diagnosed with COPD. Forced to live on a very limited income, she cautiously joined us first for food and was surprised to find a welcoming safe environment ready to listen, nurture and eventually provide her with tools to start to believe in herself.

The first order of business was to get her healthy. She learned that eating nutritious soups helped her disease abate, she found resources about diet, spices, vitamins, dental help, and trying new juices made with vegetables and fruit. Linda tried new foods for compromised immune systems, gluten free choices and a soy and almond drink instead of dairy. Like many folks on social assistance, these choices are expensive. But the food bank, through United Way funding specifically for protein-rich foods, was able to help by supplying these items during Linda’s visits for soup and also through the hamper program.

Linda’s goal was to live independently. She received household items through the food bank’s message board and by word of mouth, talking to folks at the food bank. Linda says it is the relationships formed with the staff, volunteers and our patrons that have become her most important connections.

As her health improved, from 80 to a whopping 100 pounds, her energy became restored; she says the food bank has done more for her bouts of depression than any prescribed pills. Linda also received care packages sent to her home if she stayed away too long. Staff and volunteers became friends and would drive her to appointments and from the hospital on their time off. Now Linda takes care of others that are too feeble to make it in for soup or for hampers.

Linda also started volunteering at the food bank, first as a cleaner and then as a soup server. She has gone from working half an hour to two hours in the soup kiosk and now has a part time job in the community. Through all of life’s challenges she has managed to put on a smile and has infected everyone around her with laughter.

With the funding they receive, the Cowichan Valley Basket Society is able to purchase protein-rich foods for their patrons.

A donation to United Way Cowichan can ensure people, just like Linda, are provided with this nutrition, giving them the ability to get back on their feet and to become healthy members of our community. Remember, this isn’t a “United Way campaign”, this is the community campaign. Together, we are possibility! To donate: call 250-748-1312 or visit

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