“When the pandemic started, I saw that people in my community were struggling. Not everyone had enough to eat,” recalls Travis. “So, I started going through my pantry and started dropping off care packages to people who I thought were in need. People started hearing about what I was doing and one day, someone at United Way reached out to me to ask how they could help.”
In 2020, as a result of COVID-19, Canadians experienced a significant rise in food insecurity. This remains one of our most pressing community issues today, with ever increasing numbers of families and individuals finding themselves economically challenged and socially isolated.
1 in 7 Canadians currently live in food insecure households – and that number is even greater for families with children.i
Thanks to your local love, United Way has been able to respond to the crisis and ensure that our most vulnerable neighbours can get the help they need.
In close collaboration with our community partners, we were able to quickly set up over 150 United Way Food Hubs and help community champions like Travis extend their reach.
“I started out delivering goods to six homes, but with United Way’s help, I now help make sure 23 households have enough to eat.”
When you’re vulnerable, the right connection can save your life.
“I receive groceries on Wednesdays,” says Chad. “I realized I needed the help over the summer, when the pandemic had been going on for a few months. This support means I don’t have to wonder when I’m going to eat, or what I’m going to eat. It might be a loaf of bread or a gift card so I can do my own shopping, but it makes me feel more stable. That help goes a long way when you don’t have the means to do it yourself.”
In addition to receiving food, Chad also started volunteering in his community: “I was raised to believe that a helping hand is always welcome.”
Families with children, single mothers, seniors, newcomers, Indigenous communities and Black Canadians are amongst those who have been most impacted by food insecurity. Both Travis and Chad belong to the Indigenous community in South Vancouver, which happens to be one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in the Lower Mainland.
It is also one of the most food insecure areas in the region. The demand for help – and access to nutritious, healthy, and culturally appropriate food – has remained consistently high here. The United Way Food Hub in South Vancouver continues to distribute between 300 – 500 meals and hampers per week to families in need.
Because of the great diversity in the neighborhood, and because it’s not always easy to ask for help when you need it, community leaders like Travis and Chad are essential to creating vital connections in our local social fabric.
“I’m very grateful that Travis and Chad are there because they’ve really helped to deepen our connection with the Indigenous people in the South Vancouver area” acknowledges Zahra Esmail, Executive Director of the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House.
Thanks to the efforts of local residents like Travis and Chad, United Way and South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (SVNH) have now become known resources in the community, both among many families of Indigenous origin as well as those of other cultural backgrounds living in the area.
Travis sums it up nicely:
“United Way offers more than just food. They offer family, community, structure and stability.”
When we show our local love, we can make our community great for everyone.
Food insecurity has tremendous negative impact on physical and mental health, personal relationships, social isolation, and employment maintenance. Left unchecked, these issues can take an immense toll on our society as a whole. It’s not a problem that any one organization can fix alone. Everyone has a role to play. Thanks to partners, volunteers and donors like you, United Way has the resources, infrastructure and connections to bring everyone together.
“It’s basically right there in the name!” exclaims Chad. “Whether we’re working or receiving help, United Way brings us together. It’s uniting us into believing we can help one another.”
The pandemic isn’t over for everyone.
COVID will have a lasting, long-term effect on our society. More Canadians are living below the poverty line now and are dependent on help. The current food security system is overloaded and unreliable.
“I look at communities like a domino effect—if one thing breaks down, everything else starts to crumble. We need to keep people sustained, otherwise that’s how we lose our communities. Being able to help people is really important, because you want to be able to maintain that structure of community.” – Travis
Thanks to donors like you we’ve made much progress in the last year and have identified a sustainable, regional approach to provide for our most vulnerable neighbours. However, the need is still greater than it’s ever been. Too many families and individuals continue to struggle. Help ensure everyone in our community has access to the food they need.
Show your local love. Donate today.
Together, we can make our community stronger and more resilient.
It doesn’t take much to make a big difference in someone’s life. A gift of $50 provides a grocery hamper including healthy, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods for one vulnerable family for one week.