Food security challenge front and centre in pandemic

Editor’s note: Today wraps up #YEGCares week here on the Transforming Edmonton blog. We’ve been posting stories that highlight caring, understood, basically, as what people need to be healthy. We started with a unique story about the provision of food at City Farms. To end the week, another story about food, and the provision of community. Thanks for being with us this week.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the basics of life, with food security front and centre. Greg Dewling sees the challenge.

“Food security has become a very real issue with some of our tenants,” said Dewling, who is the CEO of Capital Region Housing. 

Earlier this year, Capital Region Housing partnered with the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) to support tenants facing financial difficulties. 

Almost 200 care packages—non-perishable items, fresh fruits and vegetables, and treats like chocolates and cookies—were delivered to tenants over two weekends in May and June. 

“We are always invested in the success of our tenants and we empathize with those who are struggling right now to feed their families,” said Dewling. “We found an innovative way to help be a part of the solution to this issue and we thank MAC for stepping up to help us feed families of all faiths during Ramadan.” 

Take a look back:

Not a new story

The City of Edmonton, along with other agencies and organizations, works to ensure food is available for all Edmontonians. Those in need of support are encouraged to call 211 for resources and services currently available.

According to a 2015 Edmonton Community Foundation survey, nearly half (44%) of Edmontonians feel that food security is a problem in Edmonton.

Our shared humanity

The food care package campaign was only one of countless examples of Edmontonians reacting to the pandemic by asking how can we? and not just I wonder if we should?

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to demonstrate to me the strength and resilience of our community,” said Mike Chow, Director of Social Identity & Social Inclusion. 

“Coming together to co-create solutions to life’s toughest challenges; but to also seek solutions that create belonging and remind us of our shared humanity.”

Community connections

The pandemic has also underlined the need to feed community connections, especially when language and cultural barriers are compounded by physical distancing rules.

With this in mind, the Islamic Family and Social Services Association (IFSSA) hosted a series of virtual seminars every Sunday during Ramadan. The goal? To inspire hope during a difficult time. The sessions were open to members and non-members of their community.

IFSSA works with the Edmonton Social Planning Council on community check-ins for social isolation and loneliness. 

With support and funding to frontline organizations from the City of Edmonton’s Family and Community Support Services Program and Community Grants, this work continues.

“One of the most remarkable things about Edmonton,” said Omar Yaqub with IFSSA, “is a real willingness to work with community organizations to provide people meaningful support in a way that best suits them.”

Editor’s note: The top image is taken from the Capital Region Housing-Muslim Association of Canada video included in this post.