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Cowichan food recovery project provides skills training, feeds community

Six local job seekers will gain work experience in business, marketing social enterprise and event planning while helping the Cowichan Green Community (CGC) expand its food security programs.

The Province provided $124,972 for a job creation project to help open the reFRESH Cowichan Marketplace. The storefront is a social enterprise where local shoppers can find fresh produce, frozen meals, dry goods and a line of value-added products at accessible prices. Revenue generated from sales goes to support operating costs for the CGC’s food recovery programs.

“This is a project that demonstrates how we can work together to combine opportunities for people and social value,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Cowichan Green Community saw a problem, brought together partners and initiated a project that improves food security in the community while giving people marketable skills they can use to find a good job. This is how we can reduce poverty — when everyone is working together towards a common goal.”

In 2018, CGC received $84,011 to begin establishing a food-waste recovery program that redistributes surplus food from local grocery stores to emergency food providers. The current program is an extension of that work and expands upon the participants’ skillsets that can be applied to jobs in agriculture, retail, food services and the social enterprise sector.

In less than a year, over 63,500 kilograms (140,000 pounds) of edible food has been diverted from the landfill through CGC’s food recovery programs. More than half has been donated directly to schools, foodbanks and other service providers.

“The team at Cowichan Green Community has been feeding people in our community for years,” said Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan. “Blending that work with creating opportunities for people to develop marketable job skills is an example to the entire province on how to engage your community to tackle poverty reduction from every angle. Initiatives like this remind me why I am proud of our community.”

The project has a food distribution centre and uses a transport van to bring fruit and vegetables to organizations in its community, including the Cowichan Valley Basket Society, the Hiiye’yu Lelum House of Friendship’s Healthiest Babies Possible program, Cowichan Tribes Daycare, Cowichan Valley Women’s Shelter, Khohemun Elementary School, Healthy Beginnings and Warmland House, among others.

Funding for this and other projects is provided through WorkBC’s Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP aims to increase employment opportunities for unemployed British Columbians through partnerships, research and innovative job-creation projects.

Quote:

Judy Stafford, executive director, Cowichan Green Community —

“This food recovery project, including distribution to almost 20 service providers in Cowichan, is a moving train that no one wants to stop. By generating revenue through the store, we will be able to keep the van on the road, picking up and delivering thousands of pounds of food to community members who are facing multiple barriers to nutritious fruit and vegetables. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s support.”

Quick Facts:

  • Government will invest approximately $15 million in CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2019-20.
  • Since the program began in 2012, more than 381 CEP projects have helped local communities, employers and people looking for work.
  • Job Creation Partnerships are one of five CEP programs available throughout the province.

Learn More:

Learn about how Community Employer Partnerships are helping local communities: www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Learn more about Job Creation Partnerships: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships/Job-Creation-Partnerships.aspx

Learn more about Cowichan Green Community: https://cowichangreencommunity.org/


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