Surrey – SurreyCares Community Foundation has provided a $13,229 Emergency Community Support Fund grant to Lookout Housing & Health Society’s “COVID-19 Ambassador & Food Security Program”. This project offers vulnerable immunocompromised individuals with protein/vitamin-rich food hampers, PPE, and COVID-19 safety information.
Since the onset of COVID-19, Lookout’s Positive Haven Food Bank has seen a near 40% increase in the number of hampers given out. At the same time, the Fraser Valley has had the highest rate of infection in the Lower Mainland. Individuals that access services at Lookout are in the high-risk category for COVID-19. Thus accessing immune-boosting foods, educational information, and protective equipment to safeguard themselves is an essential part of maintaining their health during this time.
“This program aims to increase the food security of vulnerable individuals while improving their knowledge and adoption of COVID-safe practices,” said Meg Tran, Manager of Surrey Health Programs at Lookout Housing & Health Society. “Providing information, PPE, and handing out protein and vitamin-rich food hampers to vulnerable populations is integral to minimizing the virus’ impact on our communities. As a whole, the Surrey Community benefits from more informed, food-secure individuals with access to PPE to protect themselves and those around them.”
Lookout has trained peers on recommended health practices and proper PPE use to act as ambassadors. The Peer Ambassadors work to ensure that guests adhere to COVID-19 protocols while using Lookout’s services. Additionally, Peer Ambassadors communicate safety information in a relatable manner to increase awareness and adoption amongst guests. The Peer Ambassadors also distribute PPE, such as masks and hand sanitizer, to ensure that vulnerable individuals have the tools they need to stay safe.
The Peer Ambassadors earn stipends while they work, which allows them to modestly supplement their income and build transferable skills while also gaining self-confidence through meaningful, engaging work. The Peer Ambassadors at Lookout attend program activities on Mondays and Thursdays, the Positive Haven Food Bank on Wednesdays (where they also distribute immune-boosting food hampers), and DOPERS meetings (Diverse Organization Providing Education and Regional Services) Tuesdays.
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.
“Protecting immunocompromised individuals living within our community by providing food security and safety information is essential, especially during the pandemic,” said Christine Buttkus, Executive Director of SurreyCares Community Foundation. “Therefore, SurreyCares is grateful to be able to support Lookout’s important work through the COVID-Safe Ambassador & Food Hamper program.”
“We’re grateful 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.