Impact Stories

Meeting food needs in remote communities – Clearwater Regional Community Food Hub launches 

Food Hubs help rural, remote and Indigenous communities facing unique food access challenges.

Nestled between the Cariboo and Monashee Mountains and home to almost 2,700 residents, Clearwater is an outdoor paradise. With only one grocery store, few high-paying jobs and Kamloops, the nearest city, an hour and a half away, it is also a place where people can struggle to get the healthy food, they need year-round. “Country prices”, inflation, declining local food production, winter roads and more make food insecurity an issue here. Like many more rural and remote communities across BC, families with low incomes, seniors, and Indigenous peoples are especially impacted.  

A Food Hub opens 

Working with Yellowhead Community Services, United Way BC launched the Clearwater Regional Community Food Hub in July 2023. Through Regional Community Food Hubs, United Way coordinates efforts between local nonprofits including organizations serving marginalized and underserved groups, school districts, faith-based organizations and food suppliers, food recovery groups, who deliver rescued food to local hubs, to ensure all British Columbians have access to nutritious, culturally appropriate food. Programming includes food hampers and meal distribution, community gardens, food literacy and skill building, as well as funding for staff and infrastructure development. Regional Community Food Hubs are supported by United Way BC donors, the provincial government, health authorities and other funders. 

“Yellowhead Community Services Society is grateful for the funding provided through the United Way BC Regional Community Food Hub Initiative, as well as the opportunity to work with our partners to continue to provide further access to nourishing, healthy, and culturally appropriate food for all residents in the communities we serve throughout the North Thompson,” Christine Peterson, Chief Executive Officer, Yellowhead Community Services Society. 

Unique community needs 

Yellowhead Community Services has provided food security programming to Clearwater since 2001 making them an ideal steward for this Food Hub. A steward organization works with nonprofits, First Nations and Indigenous-led groups to assess and help meet the unique food needs of the region that it serves. In Clearwater, the involvement of volunteers is key to the success of many food security programs. Hiring a Food Security Coordinator allows for volunteer coordination and growth of the program to better meet area food needs. While increased food storage space – think refrigerators and freezers, allows for storage of donations and food sourced through Yellowhead’s gleaning program. 

“Yellowhead Community Services is well embedded in Clearwater with great programs to support families and seniors. They have also identified service gaps like providing childcare for those interested in attending food literacy workshops and promoting First Nations hunting and fishing knowledge to increase Indigenous food sources. Closing these gaps means better health and well-being for the community,” says Kendahl Cardinal, Food Security Manager with United Way BC. “United Way BC is excited to be working with Yellowhead Community Services as the steward organization for our twenty-first Regional Community Food Hub. Their localized approach can lead to long-term impact for and with the region.” 

Serving a growing need 

In 2022/23, there were 20 Regional Community Food Hubs across the province. In March, United Way BC received $7.5 million from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to expand Regional Community Food Hubs to rural, Northern and Indigenous communities over the next five years. Regional Community Food Hubs will expand at the rate of up to five Hubs per year. The Clearwater Food Hub is the first of these.  

United Way BC is committed to building a healthier, more equitable and sustainable food system for British Columbians.  

Here. For fuller plates. Donate today.