Cowichan Green Community executive director Judy Stafford is helping to head up the Emergency Food Access Task Force. (Citizen file)

Task force created to address food security in Cowichan Valley during COVID-19 disruptions

Emergency Food Access Task Force brings several organizations together

A host of organizations in the Cowichan Valley are joining forces to respond to the impact that COVID-19 is having on the region’s food system.

Cowichan Green Community helped launch the Emergency Food Access Task Force, which is helping address food security during the pandemic. Also on board are the Cowichan Valley Basket Society, Warmland House, Social Planning Cowichan, Volunteer Cowichan, StarFish Pack, Nourish Cowichan, the Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation, the Ladysmith Resource Centre, the Salvation Army, the City of Duncan and the Cowichan Valley School District, among others.

“We have had three preliminary meetings so far and the response and dedication to the food insecurity issues here in our community has been inspiring,” CGC executive director Judy Stafford said. “With the recent reduced capacity of the food banks and other services in Cowichan, enacting an alternative emergency food system is our priority.”

The Basket Society food bank closed last week due to COVID-19 concerns, but reopened this week with some reduced services. Hampers are being handed out three days a week from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and sandwiches are available from noon to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Visit www.cvbs.ca or call 250-746-1566 for more information.

Warmland House is also providing emergency food support, increasing their offerings of bagged breakfasts, lunches and diners. The Meals on the Ground program also offers takeaway dinners on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the parking lot between Trunk Road and the Ts’i’ts’uwatul’ Lelum assisted living facility.

Nourish Cowichan, StarFish Pack and the Cowichan Valley School District are making sure that their programs continue to support children and families in the community who rely on school lunch programs and food banks. They started delivering hampers last week and are working with school principals to identify families in need. They hope to deliver 100 hampers across the region each week. If you are aware of a child or family who would benefit from this program, contact their school’s principal.

Cowichan Green Community is offering free weekly food coupons through their reFRESH Marketplace grocery store, as well as free grocery delivery. CGC is accepting donations to expand the program to more families and seniors. Visit cowichangreencommunity.org or call 250-748-8506 for more information.

The Emergency Food Access Task Force is looking for community support to keep all the food programs operating, and expanding them to reach everyone in need.

“For those who want to help, we’re encouraging monetary donations to the organization of your choice,” Stafford said. “Funds donated through CGC will be used to purchase food and gift cards to share with our community members who need it most.”

CGC will provide tax receipts for donations over $25, and many of the other organizations offer tax receipts as well. A list of the organizations to donate to, who are continuing to provide food in need through this COVID emergency, can be found at www.socialplanningcowichan.org

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