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People and programs 11/14/2022
Shannon McCauley is the Director of Partnership Development at Community Food Centres Canada. Recently, Shannon and her team have been supporting our Community Food Centre partners as they transition back to offering in-person programming. This is the third blog in a series that shares what this has looked like in several communities across Canada.

When the pandemic hit, community services and organizations near Mount Paul Community Food Centre (CFC) in Kamloops, BC closed their doors. But the team at Mount Paul quickly realized that for their organization, this was not an option. 

Within a week, the CFC came up with ways to shift existing programming to be offered as outreach services. Produce markets became grocery shopping services. Community meals turned into takeaway meals.

They went from serving 250 meals per week to 250 meals per day. New faces quickly became familiar as news spread all over town. 

When the province’s restrictions eased this past spring, Mount Paul CFC reinstated in-person community meals. Now, up to 90 people are coming to dine together each meal, and they’re building strong connections that span across cultures and generations. 

Dawn Christie, Manager of the Mount Paul CFC, recently shared one such connection that’s stood out for her: 

“There is a young man who comes to our Market Greens program, receiving a weekly subsidy to purchase fresh produce that helps him manage a chronic health condition. That’s where he learned about our community meals. He is introverted and experiences social anxiety in large group settings, but he felt safe coming to the market at the Community Food Centre and decided he’d give it a try.

This young man told me that he’s met a group of four elderly women who regularly attend the community meal. He calls them his nannies. When he walks in, they invite him to their table. He says the CFC has helped bring him out of his shell. Before he discovered this place, he wasn’t leaving his house very often, but now he’s coming a few times per week to pick up fruits and vegetables to cook with, and to enjoy a delicious meal in the company of his new friends.” 

The past few years have not been easy on anyone, but we know it’s been particularly tough on Community Food Centre staff – working on the front lines, constantly shifting procedures, seeing increased need in their community and delivering emergency food programming in ways they’ve never had to before.

That’s why these moments of community and connection are worth celebrating. They are a strong reminder of what we’ve long known – that there is power in a community coming together around food. 

As Dawn reflects: 

“This past spring brought a renewed desire for community. People were ready to be socially connected and share experiences once again. We’re thrilled to be able to hold space for gathering, sharing and growing here at Mount Paul CFC.” 

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