East Wellington Community Services recognizes there are unique challenges associated with living rural. We appreciate the stigma that comes with accessing a food bank and how this can be amplified in a small, affluent community. Our staff and volunteers have worked creatively and tirelessly to make use of innovative grants, to foster strong partnerships and to think outside of the box to address hunger and the social determinants of health. This past year we have successfully:
(1) Created a Community Garden at our Adult Day Program (ADP) through the SYSCO Feeding Fresh – Community Garden Program. The gardens were designed with the Older Adult in mind and all beds are raised to a height that allows for them to be maintained by our program participants with varying levels of dementia and mobility restrictions. The crop is used for cooking nutritious lunches within the ADP and included in weekly food hampers for Community Support clients.
(2) Introduced a fresh fruit and vegetables day into the Erin District High School Breakfast Program through the Rural Kids Grant. The program includes teaching the youth the concept of fresh breakfast grab and go foods (such as boiled eggs and fruit) and provided take away fresh snacks. The youth were exposed to Outreach staff of East Wellington Community Services to build comfort, familiarity and rapport with workers in a proactive way that helps to connect them to their community.
3) We have built a relationship with the local grocery store to bring frozen meats into our food bank and now are able to distribute frozen meats to our community support/food bank clientele.
4) The local Girl Guides of Canada unit purchased and created back packs for our Rural homeless. The backpacks were given to people who are in need of immediate help and support.
5) We partnered with the East Wellington Family Health Team to offer Community cooking classes that are co facilitated by the Family Health Team nutritionists and East Wellington Community Services Community Support staff to teach healthy, easy cooking options.
6) East Wellington Community Services partnered with the Anglican Church to organize and carry out Community Dinners open to all in our community.
8) During the Holiday season, East Wellington Community Services not only participates in the Christmas Hamper Program that brings gifts to young families; but we match isolated older adults and those battling addictions and mental health or disabilities with community sponsors as well. East Wellington Community Services provided Christmas Hampers and gifts to 106 adults who would have otherwise felt the increased effects of feeling isolated, forgotten and unimportant.
Because we are able to leverage partnerships with local organizations and create relationships with community members to reduce stigma and increase levels of trust East Wellington Community Services was awarded the 2018 Innovator of the Year Award by the Ontario Association of Food Banks for showing strong innovation in program development, community engagement and service.
For more information about East Wellington Community Services please visit our website at www.ew-cs.com
Kari Simpson, CEO