The Kamloops COVID Meal Train was born as a solution to address food insecurity and alleviate the pressure on resources brought by the COVID 19 pandemic. It was established at the end of March, the onset of the pandemic as a volunteer-led initiative and a unique community/grassroots mobile food dissemination program. During this time, meal service agencies in Kamloops ceased operations as a result of shortages in capacity and the crucial need for volunteers to isolate at the peak of the pandemic that plagued the world. This presented a tremendous challenge as those who were most vulnerable were inhibited from accessing a fundamental human right, nutritious meals, and a place to seek unconditional support. 

The Co-coordinator of the program and previous board member of the Kamloops Food Policy Council, Glenn Hilke saw this as an opportunity to not only provide breakfast at a time when there were no meal programs available but to also expand to provide lunch to the vulnerable population. Based on his ties to the community and his work with the non-profit – Lived Experience Community, he defined the vulnerable population including not only those experiencing homelessness and those with lived experiences dwelling in alleys but those living in motels due to the inability to access housing as a result of the heavy costs & restrictions in the housing market. Seniors are also considered a part of the vulnerable population and the Kamloops COVID Meal Train has provided, with the help of volunteers and businesses, well over 30,000 meals to combat food insecurity in our community. 

Cynthia Travers, manager at the Kamloops COVID Meal Train and recently elected board member at the Kamloops Food Policy Council brought to the limelight obstacles and challenges faced by the Kamloops COVID Meal Train. As an organization and initiative created based on a model heavily dependent on donations and volunteers, the inconsistent donations and volunteers, the lack thereof to maintain 2 meals, 7 days a week schedule is even more arduous. The Salvation Army and Mustard Seed assists however, as a community we are responsible for bridging the gaps where there is lack. The COVID meal train does this by providing breakfast, lunch (& prospectively dinner) to meet this dire need in our community. 

How Can You Help?

  • The Kamloops COVID Meal Train is organizing a Barbecue and Car wash as a fundraiser 

When: Saturday, September 26, 2020 

Time: 11 AM to 3 PM 

Where: 405a Tranquille Road, Kamloops BC

The program’s success comes from the endless support and love of the community and the willingness of people and fast-food restaurants to donate time, funds, food, and skills to help those in need. The cost of each meal is estimated to be 75 cents and with more than 30,000 meals offered to the vulnerable population, it costs well over $20,000 to keep the program running. The Kamloops COVID Meal Train recognizes its passionate and highly knowledgeable  8-team drivers, who constantly absorb costs of delivering meals and community volunteers that spend well over 100s and 1000s of dollars out of pocket as a means of support. 

Moving Forward 

To make the program an initiative one that is self-sustaining, the Kamloops COVID Meal Train is involved in a monthly roundtable discussion with representatives from agencies in Canada. Grants and fundings are currently in the works. Glenn Hilke appreciates the current support of organizations, restaurants, and fast-food chains like Tim Hortons, Smorgasbord Deli, and the Kamloops Alliance Church for providing meals and a commercial kitchen. Other fast-food chains and local restaurants are also encouraged to donate a day’s worth of food per month to keep the train moving.

When the FarmFolk CityFolk mobile seed cleaner recently rolled through town, a couple of us from the KFPC were lucky enough to take part in their seed cleaning session at SSOL Gardens. The mobile seed cleaner is currently being toured around the province to promote commercial seed production and support farmers who are already producing seed for sale. This well-equipped trailer can be a game-changer for farmers thinking about growing for seed as the equipment it brings can produce commercial-grade seed in a fraction of the time it would take to clean it manually.

Seed sovereignty is an integral part of food sovereignty. In order to have a resilient local or regional food system, we need to be producing our own seed so that we are less reliant on large commercial seed companies and able to develop plant varieties adapted to changing local and regional climates.

Prepping beans for cleaning

Seed cleaning can be monotonous and labour-intensive work, but it can also be very relaxing and meditative. When you see that bucket of clean seeds – the finished product of your labor, it’s also immensely satisfying. And sharing the work with a friendly crew of helpers makes for a fun day on the farm!

The seed cleaning unit itself is a trailer that houses several interesting gadgets used in the seed-cleaning process including an air-separator, which uses suction to pull the lighter chaff away from the seeds. David Catzel, who built most of the equipment in the trailer, was on hand for our session at SSOL and was able to finely-tune the airflow for each type of seed, producing a very clean finished product.

David and Daniela screening onions

There is quite a bit of manual preparation to be done before the plant material is ready to go through the separator. This is where the teamwork comes in. The more plant material that can be removed from the seed beforehand, the more effective the final cleaning will be. The mobile seed trailer is equipped with a sizeable collection of hand screens, which make the process easier.

On the day we were there, we helped clean two varieties of beans, six of carrots, ten lettuce varieties, and two onions. Daniela from SSOL Gardens figured the session saved her a week to 10 days of work and was way more fun than doing it alone!

David also facilitated a seed saving workshop for us while he was in town, which, unfortunately, we had to restrict to seven people because of social distancing restrictions. For those of us who got to attend, it was very informative and inspiring. One important takeaway was that although seed saving can be very scientific and particular with tons to learn about plant varieties, cross-pollination, and isolation distances, it can also be very simple. Many of our common vegetables, such as tomatoes, lettuce, beans, and peas are mostly self-pollinating and can easily be saved from one year to the next. And sometimes unintended cross-pollination can result in something new and different!

Thanks to David Catzel and Steph Benoit for organizing and facilitating the event and to FarmFolk CityFolk for making it possible!

 

Food Commons creates an integrated and amalgamated system for a community based local sharing process. It is a radical shift from the modernized practice of food production and commoditization to a traditional sharing economy approach that caters to farmers, farming communities, those that operate in the food system, and members of the community. It creates a grassroots network that connects people and addresses food insecurity within households and communities.

Food Sharing or Collaborative Consumption is not only exclusive to the service industry but is very integral to food security in our community especially following this pandemic. The sharing economy breeds a strong sense of trust within the community and helps those in need by addressing huge issues such as production, administration, funding, research, information, and distribution.

At the Kamloops Food Policy Council, we have several venues to promote the sharing economy – Common Gardens & Shared Kitchen. This encourages local food production, variety, equal distribution of food resources, and reduces food waste. 

In 25 years, we want people to recognize food sharing and local food production as solutions to the current economic landscape.

Food Literacy is referred to as understanding how to grow and prepare healthy and nutritious food through traditional means and understanding the impact of food on health, the environment, and the economy. As a community, we need to pass on the knowledge and know-how to ensure food security for generations to come.

As an organization, we promote education, food literacy, food sharing, researching best practices, and transferring knowledge within our network and beyond. We work with gardeners, farmers, institutions,  researchers, organizations, and community members & participants through common spaces such as our Butler Urban Farms. We have learned from community leaders on topics such as tree pruning, mushroom cultivation, growing microgreens, permaculture design, seed cleaning, and saving seeds. 

We encourage you to grow in knowledge with us and share with the community. 

 

Today, we focus on one of our core values, which is promoting indigenous food sovereignty by decolonizing relations and restoring ecological food systems. Food should not be seen as a commodity to be bought and sold but a sacred gift that should be accessible to all. 

We embrace traditional practices and cultural harvesting strategies and respect the interconnectedness of food people and nature. 

We ensure access to traditional land by returning it or creating indigenous protected areas and promote policies to ensure the sustainability of indigenous food systems for future generations 

We recognize indigenous legal orders, systems, and laws and work to minimize our impact on unceded lands, educate ourselves, and support an indigenous-led decolonization movement. 

Are you still with us? Today we want to celebrate another one of our core values at the KFPC: Economic Vitality and Support for Local Food Providers

At the Kamloops Food Policy Council, we believe in Local Economic Vitality through the Support for Regional Food Providers. We embrace solidarity over competition and profits. We believe we must protect our gatekeepers, farmers, producers, and workers who toil to feed us by ensuring safe and equitable labor conditions. By supporting the food and agricultural sectors, we can promote economic vitality and cater to the needs of residents, chefs, and institutions. 

In 25 years, we hope to see a community that supports food producers, processors, and distributors and enables them to expand to meet increasing demand. We hope to eliminate barriers for new entrants and provide the infrastructure needed to succeed and we hope to promote and advocate for policies and regulations that protect and promote as opposed to prevent. 

 

Today we want to celebrate one of our core values at the KFPC: Poverty Alleviation and Equitable Access to Food 

At the Kamloops Food Policy Council, we hope to alleviate poverty in our community through equitable access to health and culturally appropriate food. We hope to generate a food system in our community that is inclusive and diverse,  meets the needs of people from all walks of life, caters to people from different cultural heritage backgrounds, including those experiencing homelessness. We do this by working with urban farms in our community and gleaning from areas that are abundant to share with the community. This enables us to avoid food waste and address barriers to accessibility. 

 

 

Our 25th Anniversary Promotional Video is scheduled to be premiered on Youtube on Sunday, August 23, 2020, and the countdown starts today!

At the Kamloops Food Policy Council, we believe in a resilient and adaptive food system that promotes biodiversity, soil health, and food security in the face of changing political and economic climate.

To derive this, we promote traditional harvesting methods that protect animals, land, water, and a system that properly compensates human labor.

We promote a resilient food system by advocating for policy changes, creating initiatives such as the Gleaning Abundance Program, and working collaboratively with farmers in the community.

Stay Connected on our other social media platforms to count and celebrate with us and tune into our Youtube Channel!

 

The Kweseltken Farmer’s & Artisan Market had its grand opening on Sunday, August 9, 2020. The celebration opened with Sage Hills Drummers and a special welcome song by Rosanne Casimir, following a welcome address from Elder Leona Thomas.

The event featured several guest speakers including Shaw Bonnough from the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Dieter Dudy, the owner of Thistle Farms and a representative from the Kamloops City Council and George Casimir, the owner of Farm and Stuff and the Manager of Community Futures Development Corporation of Central Interior First Nations (CFDC of CIFN).

The project was created to support first nations communities and tourism in the region and will run every Sunday from 8 AM to 2 PM until the end of September 2020 at the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc Powwow Grounds at 345 Powwow Trail.

It is open to all indigenous and non-indigenous vendors. For more information, click here

Peavey Industries awarded the Kamloops Food Policy Council $30,050 as part of the 2020 Community Agriculture Grant to support resiliency gardening, food security, and local food production, through our very own Butler Urban Farm Project!

The grant was created in response to the global pandemic and the need to support the vast and varied needs of communities in British Columbia and Ontario within a 300km radius from a Peavy Mart, TSC, or MainStreet Hardware Store.

The Kamloops Food Policy Council, through the Butler Urban Farm, has increased food production in the community and improved the well-being of groups and individuals.

The grant will enable the KFPC to install a teaching greenhouse, tool storage shed, and fund a Fall Harvest Manager for distribution and winterizing of the farm.