“I think it’s just marvelous that they were able to manage to have the Farm to Family program come together the way it has during this time of COVID,” says Peter.
Pandemic safety restrictions eliminated most of the in-person health-supports that Peter and his wife, Anna Lin, relied on. The United Way-funded Farm to Family Meals Service was the only support they had left.
The creation of Denman Island-resident Erika Bland, the brand-new program was able to ramp up during the pandemic and provide free meals due in large part to United Way funding. It sources produce from local farmers, with volunteers cooking the meals.
It’s made a big difference to dozens of senior residents of Denman Island, including Peter and Anna Lin. Preparing healthy meals was one less thing to think about during what became an extremely difficult time for the couple.
Support during a difficult time
Exposure to smells and chemicals, especially petrochemicals, resulted in many health problems for Anna Lin, including seizures.
For 26 years, Anna Lin and Peter lived extremely isolated, with the exception of healthcare supports. But when those in-person supports were eliminated due to COVID, Peter became a full-time caregiver.
“It was about that same time that COVID began that she was diagnosed with breast cancer,” says Peter.
Food preparation was one of many tasks that weighed on him.
“It really was just a bit of a break, that occasionally, about three or four times a week I would have the opportunity to not think about food preparation for a few meals. It just made things a little bit easier,” says Peter.
A meal makes a difference
Dozens of others are supported by the program, some of whom simply are not able to prepare healthy meals for themselves.
One woman supported by the program said she had been living off of peanut-butter sandwiches, but is feeling healthier now that she is receiving food through the program, says Erika.
“It’s just so heartwarming to hear that and to know that you are making that kind of difference in someone’s life. There are more stories like that,” she says.
Peter is now on his own. Anna Lin passed away, and grief is very close at hand. But the program continues to support him as he grieves, and deals with his own health issues.
“Denman Island is, I think, a caring community as a whole and this Farm to Family thing represents who and what this community is,” says Peter. “And the gifts from United Way to make it happen is, I know, very much appreciated by many, many people here.”
“We could not have done what we’re doing without the United Way funding,” says Erika. “There is absolutely no way we’d be able to be serving this many people, and providing a service that’s free.
“You are making a real difference.”
But there are more healthy meals needed, and you can provide them
A Statistics Canada survey done in May of 2020 showed nearly 1 in 7 Canadians were dealing with food insecurity.
Programs like this fill a vital gap in our communities. And they are made possible when people like you donate. Let’s tackle food insecurity, and make sure all of our neighbours have access to healthy meals.
Please donate today.