In a small office in St. Mary’s Anglican Church hall a group of half a dozen local volunteers meet to discuss how they can best meet the needs of the most vulnerable people within the Nanoose community. Food security is the primary issue with much of the discussion focusing on supporting the 80-90 clients the Nanoose Community Services Food Program serves at any given time.
People finding themselves in need of help come to the program through one of several channels:
- word of mouth, often from current clients;
- the NCS website;
- the Nanoose Business Services Directory; or
- from other support agencies in the Oceanside area
The volunteer committee works in tandem with local businesses that have opted to help out. Major support comes from Quality Foods at Red Gap which sells the committee food vouchers to distribute to clients. The vouchers, or ‘QF cards’, are restricted to use for accepted food, pet food or household items only. This program replaces the “Community Cupboard”, where food donated by the community was distributed to clients.
People who approach NCS for help are invited to meet with two volunteers to discuss their needs and their eligibility for the program. What are their circumstances; are they steadily employed, part-time or seasonally; what is their overall financial situation and are they dealing with particular health issues? Over half of the clients of the Food Program are on some form of disability. “Confidentiality is guaranteed”, says the head of the Food Program committee.
New clients must show proof of Nanoose Bay residency, their B.C. Care Card as ID, and provide documentation which shows their monthly income and expenses. Once their needs are verified, they are accepted into the program and will receive an appointment for the next monthly food program day at which time they will receive $150 worth of QF cards plus $25 for each additional family member. They may receive QF cards to tide them over until the appointment day.
With their permission, the names of new clients are added to a client list which is shared with other food banks in the area. If their circumstances change, clients are asked to inform the NCS.