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A Rocha Canada Receives $9,000 Grant to Provide Healthy Meals And Connection for Surrey Seniors and Newcomers During COVID-19

Surrey – SurreyCares Community Foundation has provided a $9,000 Emergency Community Support Fund grant to A Rocha Canada’s Farm to Families program. COVID-19 has only exacerbated food security and isolation issues for many under-served Surrey residents who were already vulnerable to these challenges. This project addresses food security needs among seniors and newcomers in Surrey who face income, literacy, transportation, language and health barriers to accessing nutritious food and social interactions. This is done through food literacy education and fresh vegetable donations provided in an accessible, community-oriented and culturally sensitive manner. 

“Since the onset of COVID-19, our community partners have not only identified an increased need for food donations, particularly for fresh produce, but also for virtual and phone-based programming that supports a sense of community belonging,” explained Sandra Dumitras, Farm to Families Coordinator & Development Assistant at A Rocha’s B.C. Centre. “In addition, newcomers have voiced their struggles of not knowing how to use unfamiliar ingredients and therefore having to turn down donations or miss opportunities to buy cheap seasonal food, even as they are anxious about providing adequate nutrition for their families.”

As a result, A Rocha partnered with community agencies to serve 68 senior households, 14 newcomer families, and 100 elementary-school-aged children identified as at-risk. All participants were recruited through partner organizations and gained food literacy skills, healthy food grocery support and a sense of community belonging through Zoom-based workshops, instructional videos, and fresh food meal kits that complement learning activities. Whenever possible, A Rocha’s education team also leads in-person workshops at partner sites or A Rocha’s farm, with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. 

This grant is made possible through the Government of Canada’s $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund, which saw over $900,000 allocated to SurreyCares in its first round and now, over $575,000 in the second round.

“SurreyCares Community Foundation is thankful to be able to support A Rocha Canada’s Farm to Families program, which supports vulnerable populations in need of food security and safe connection with others. Learning to make new and healthy foods is an opportunity for participants to learn from others, share their own stories, and provide their families with nutritious meals. We continue to hear that the need for food security and community engagement is significant as the pandemic continues,” said Christine Buttkus, Executive Director of SurreyCares Community Foundation. 

The Emergency Community Support Fund is being delivered through a national partnership with Community Foundations of Canada, United Way Centraide Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.  

“We’re appreciative to the Government of Canada for this much-needed boost benefitting local charities,” said John Lawson, Chair of SurreyCares Community Foundation. “Charities and non-profit organizations have been leading the charge to assist those who need it most in the fight against COVID-19. We know the need for funding is still significant and we’re continuing to advocate for additional funding.” 

Individuals and businesses who wish to support Surrey charities are asked to give to the Surrey Community Relief Fund. In partnership with the Surrey Now-Leader, Surrey Board of Trade and The Saheli Foundation, the goal is to raise $500,000 to support the most vulnerable populations in Surrey.

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