Program, Partnership Aim for Food Security
- Submitted | January 16, 2014
An innovative program is striving to bring food security to inner city Saskatoon. Recently 20 apartment size freezers were delivered to Infinity and Newapaatahaanick houses through a great partnership between CHEP Good Food, Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. (CUMFI), and Affinity Credit Union.
CHEP Good Food Inc. works with children, families and communities to improve access to good food and promote food security and they believe that a community development approach is necessary to fulfill its mission.
Over the last few years, CHEPs Aboriginal Partnership Coordinator, Colleen Hamilton, has been working closely with the staff and residents of CUMFI. Their programs are safe and supported environment for people to be able to create a more stable, positive approach for each individual. It is with spirit of hope, helping, learning and healing that they are able to create a safer, healthier community.
Together, they also deliver many programs and workshops, have fruit in lobby of the main office for people coming in, partnered in community events and have trained their staff in becoming community kitchen leaders to deliver their own programs on healthy and affordable food. CHEP and CUMFI now have a strong partnership that benefits both organizations.
One of CUMFI's many initiatives is the supportive living apartment buildings: they are called Kanaweyimik, which means we are showing them; Infinity, meaning forever; and Newapaaatahaanick, translating to we are keeping them. The 10-unit buildings are a supportive housing facility that provides safe residences for people and their children who are at risk due to addictions, parenting or justice system. The apartments were developed through CUMFI's Métis Community Homelessness initiative.
The apartments act as a transitional home and provide a long-term plan with emergency housing for single mothers and fathers and with their children while also providing the opportunity for stabilization, programming, education, and employment.
Working closely with CUMFI over the years, CHEP has supported a progression of food-related activities for women. Programming began with an initial six week cooking session. Cooking sessions enable participants to share their skills, to learn new skills and to stretch very limited family food budgets through the miracle of cooking in bulk.
They are now on the third year of partnering and out of these sessions, the women expressed interest in learning how to grow their own food. This year, CHEP was able to provide Infinity House residence a garden space through its community gardening program, where woman have learned to plan, maintain and harvest fresh vegetables. Then women and some men from both apartment participated in a food perseveration workshop this August, in which they learned to blanch fresh, local garden vegetables.
Two years prior, the Aboriginal Partnership Coordinator, Colleen Hamilton, had a vision for a more vibrant, healthy, and more accessible means for families to eat healthier. This collective vision was talked about with staff and participants in developing this initiative.
The collective kitchens that CHEP has offered to CUMFI have been an incredible example of a seed that has germinated, grown and blossomed and continue to grow, with traditional food skills, gardening and food security.
The "Freezer project" sees 20 apartment size freezers delivered to the residents. The participants in the last cooking session have all put $25.00 each to purchases in bulk. In the next couple of weeks they will be sharing meat, vegetables, and making soups for their freezers. The freezers could make life a little easier for mothers and fathers at these two supported living programs. In upcoming programs, they will focus on how to save money and eat healthier by buying in bulk, cooking, and freezing the food for their families.
This could not have been done without Colleen Hamiltons way of thinking: she is a person of ideas and does not quit until she can find a way to get the idea a reality. Another great person that helped was Russ Manning from Coast Appliances, who lives in Pleasant Hill area and gave CHEP the freezers at cost. Even with the great gift of freezers at cost it could not have been done without the financial contribution from Affinity Credit Union.