Bella Coola Food Bank reliance highlights local food insecurities

Food insecurity is generally defined as not being able to get enough healthy food

Dear Editor,

Your recent December 12 article titled “Over thirteen percent of Bella Coola residents rely on Food Bank” highlights the level of food insecurity in the valley. Food insecurity is generally defined as not being able to get enough healthy food, either from the grocery store or from the land. The impacts of food insecurity have mental, physical, and social consequences. According to Dietitians of Canada, food security is understood as “a situation in which all community residents can obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes self-reliance and social justice.”

As highlighted in the recent article, the Bella Coola Valley has several resources dedicated to serving community members who face food insecurity. In addition to these resources, we wanted to bring attention to the role of the Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society (BCVSAS) in supporting community food security in the valley.

BCVSAS has a contract with Vancouver Coastal Health’s SMART Fund to provide food security programming in the valley. These programs currently include cooking classes for youth, currently running now until mid-March, and a gleaning program in the summer and fall months where individuals, tree owners and community groups share the pickings. The society also puts on an evening farmers’ market in the Co-op parking lot each summer. Over the years the society has offered a community-supported agricultural program, community kitchens and helped create Putl’iixw Community Garden.

The society is working toward addressing structural issues that give rise to food insecurity. Our most recent strategic plan, currently being reviewed and updated, highlights the importance of all of our food sources, including lands, rivers and forests, and aims to support local capacity to strengthen our entire food system, including food production and harvest, processing, distribution, and consumption. We aim to build a society representative of the diversity of the valley with a strong social mandate to support the health of all by “feeding ourselves and each other”.

The BCVSAS welcomes the community’s comments or concerns about the local food system and food security issues. For anyone interested in learning more about the society, and for those who are interested in becoming a society member or a board director, please contact contact Liz Howard at bellacoolafsc@hotmail.com or Nicole Kaechele at nicolekaechele.bc@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Nicole Kaechele, Chair

Bella Coola Valley Sustainable Agricultural Society