It is an organization for all.
The Food Connection For All, a non-profit organization that runs programs like the Collective Kitchen and Community Garden, has changed a lot since its inception.
The organization was formed about a year ago, when a group of concerned citizens decided the people of Humboldt needed a voice in the community for food security.
The group has members from Family Services — Partners Building Hope, the Seniors’ Centre, Humboldt and District Community Services, Humboldt Regional Newcomer’s Centre, Westminster United Church, the Saskatoon Health Region, City of Humboldt and other concerned community members, said Niamh Menz, one of the founding members.
All the members have one common goal in mind, explained Menz, to bring food security to the city.
“Our group believes in a community-based approach to food security,” said Menz. “Through our projects we are trying to rebuild skills that have been lost due to a lot of changes in our society.
“The biggest thing I have noticed is how much all the organizations in town have to offer and how they all have such a strong-vested interest in the people in our community.”
Marguerite Cunningham, another group member, explained it is not just about cooking or gardening.
“It is teaching them not only the preparation of food but also the purchasing and buying and budgeting — all of that is important,” said Cunningham.
Menz explained when people hear about their group, they often think it is for less fortunate people. She explained that food security is an issue for everyone.
“Food security is a state of affairs where all people at all times have access to safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life,” said Menz.
Having access to food does not just mean affordability, although that is an issue, said Menz. It also has to do with four principles — availability of food, economic and physical access to food, food utilization and the stability of maintaining the first three factors.
“I still think people think in our community that there aren’t people struggling with food issues but actually we all are with the change of the grocery stores to one area in town, which causes transportation issues for people, for example, our seniors in town,” said Menz. “Also, sometimes you have to go to three grocery stores to find what you are looking for.”
These are issues that face everyone in the community, they explained.
Through round table discussions, the group identifies gaps in the community.
“We have recognized a lot of not only economic concerns but many deep social and cultural needs that affect food security in Humboldt,” said Menz. “Not only are there existing needs, but there are future needs that we are starting to identify in the city as well... Needs we might not have today, we might have next year.”
To help with some of these issues, Food Connection for All has started organizations like the Community Garden and Collective Kitchen, as well as supporting others like the soup kitchen and food bank.
The Community Garden was started as a way to help people learn to garden and have access to fresh produce.
“It is amazing that our city has a community garden,” said Menz. “I talked to some people from Victoria and they were blown away by the progress Humboldt is making.”
The Collective Kitchen was started to help people learn how to create healthy meals, said Cunningham. With changes in society, many people have not developed their skills in the kitchen.
Since the start of the organization, both Menz and Cunningham have seen many changes.
“When you see it written on paper you are surprised at all you have accomplished,” said Menz.
Both explained the different programs the organization offers have become a social outlet for people as well.
“It is a very large part of socialization,” said Cunningham. “Like the Soup Kitchen. When they come there, yes they come for the food, but they have also become friends. They will sit and talk. They have made connections and friendships and met other people that can help them as well.”
The organization is always trying to come up with ways to help with food security.
“Trying to think of creative ways we can support people primarily is our purpose,” said Menz.
They have some goals and dreams for the future.
They will be working on a food gap report to identify what areas in the community need help and will also be creating a list of organic food vendors in the area.
“We also have big dreams of having a big community centre in Humboldt with a big kitchen where we have all these groups together with a symbiotic relationship where everyone works together,” said Menz.