Impact Stories

United Way British Columbia supports food security in rural and Indigenous communities

Healthy, nutritious food is far out of reach for many British Columbians living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

Photo: Elaine Casap/Unsplash

Healthy, nutritious food is far out of reach for many British Columbians living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. In fact, almost 12% of households in rural BC are food insecure. For Indigenous communities that number is even higher ranging from 48% to 55% in Coastal and Vancouver Island and Interior First Nations communities respectively.

“Living in a rural, remote and Indigenous community can mean getting healthy, nutritious food is a long drive, boat ride or flight away. This combined with gaps in systems of care are leaving many British Columbians falling through the cracks when it comes to getting fresh fruits and vegetables, and dietary and culturally appropriate foods important to overall health of Indigenous communities,” says Kim Winchell, Senior Director, Strategy & Operations, Community Impact & Investment, United Way British Columbia – working with communities in BC’s Interior, Lower Mainland and Central & Northern Vancouver Island.

Food costs are often two to three times higher in communities more than 50 KM away from a major urban centre. Lack of employment and wages relative to food costs and availability or access to traditional food systems are also key contributors.

Making healthy, nutritious food accessible

Photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

United Way British Columbia and the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Health are offering a Food Infrastructure Grant to fund food infrastructure in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

“We are excited to partner with the Province of British Columbia and the Ministry of Health to provide over $200,000 in investment to help fund the development, implementation or improvement of food infrastructure for the distribution of fresh, traditional and other foods to enhance health and community well-being,” says Kim.

“For First Nations, this is especially important as the cultural and spiritual values of traditional food along with enhanced nutrition and health provide ways of knowing and an ongoing connection to the land and water.”

The grant is available to community-based organizations located in any rural, remote and/or Indigenous community of British Columbia. It opens October 4 and closes December 15.

Along with online submissions, applications may be submitted via telephone at 236-471-1333, video or in writing. United Way British Columbia seeks geographic balance in fund investment.

Apply for grant today here.

Initiative strengthens vital connections

Ensuring British Columbians in need have enough food is a priority for United Way. Along with co-creation of solutions that address specific regional needs in rural, remote and Indigenous communities, our Food Security Initiative includes Regional Community Food Hubs. The hubs are an innovative approach to food security that allows community members access to food, food literacy and wellness programming, together with wrap-around services such as mental health support, employment services, childcare and others.

For more information on our Food Security Initiative, please visit: Food Hubs – United Way (