With holiday gatherings right around the corner, Community Food Centres of Canada are hoping people across the country will get creative with their get-togethers to help low-income communities.
The Big Social, a national fundraising campaign helmed by the CFCC, encourages Canadians to get together safely to help raise funds for food centres across the country.
During Oct. 9-25, Canadians can sign up to host a meal or event in-person or online, and raise money for healthy food programs that support people living on low incomes. Maritime partners of Big Social benefiting from those donations are The North Grove Community Centre in Dartmouth and Natoaganeg Community Food Centre in Eel Ground First Nation, N.B.
In its inaugural year in 2019, more than 400 hosts and thousands of Canadians shared meals and raised funds for over 200 communities across the country. This year, 2020 is offering a bigger challenge for the organization’s event: how to bring people together when we’re supposed to stay apart.
“We know that coming together in whatever way is possible for us is still so important,” says Anne-Marie McElrone, director of partnership development at the North Grove Community Centre. “It’s a really nice opportunity to be a little more creative and still raise money for food programs and programs that bring people together in whatever way we’re able to right now.”
Food insecurity has only gone up since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada in March. A study found that one in eight households across the country is food insecure. That represents 4.4 million Canadians — the largest number recorded since Canada began monitoring food insecurity.
READ MORE: How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting food security in Canada
Nick Saul, CEO of CFCC, told Global News more people are accessing assistance at CFCC locations across the country. “I can absolutely tell you that more and more people are showing up at the doors of those centres and that’s a significant concern.”
The staff at North Grove Community Centre know firsthand how busy food centres have become since COVID-19 swept through the Atlantic region. They’ve seen the number of new visitors increase every month since March and McElrone says their take-out meals and produce packages continue to be a vital resource for the North End Dartmouth community.
“We’ve done well over 11,000 takeout meals during COVID,” she says. “We’re well over 6,000 packages of produce that have also gone out.”
READ MORE: North End Dartmouth non-profit, The North Grove, puts down new roots amid COVID-19
Interested Big Social hosts can get event tips and ideas from the website, bigsocial.ca. They also offer social media and marketing resources to help promote your event or encourage friends and family to host their own meal. McElrone says any support from Canadians will make a big difference.
“Community food programs all across the country will get funded through the Big Social,” she says. “So if people can look to participate, sign up and host some kind of an event. You know that the money you give will go to good use because there is great need out there right now.”
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