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
- Volunteers are always needed, you can volunteer your time using this “schedule.”
- Visit the Kamloops COVID Meal Train Facebook Group to stay connected
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.
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.