Diet program for Edmonton newcomers and refugees in danger

An Edmonton program that provides food to more than 500 newcomers and refugee families is seeking help from the public after funding cuts.

Grocery Run Program officials say funding from the Edmonton Community Foundation, United Way, the food rescue organization Second Harvest, and the federal government and private donors was short-term and will end in December.

“They focused on contingency management rather than longer-term strategies,” said Catherine Bangel, who is responsible for public relations for the program, which is administered by the Multicultural Health Brokers Collective.

“A lot of funding agencies have restrictions on what you can spend money on, and the Grocery Run is a workers’ cooperative, they are not recognized as a non-profit. That is an additional challenge that we have to overcome. ”

The organization says the cuts will come as the demand for the service increases due to the pandemic and without the program many families will not be able to bring food to the table.

“We started serving 100 families in March and now we currently serve 550,” said Julia Tran, Grocery Run’s grocery dignity program manager.

These numbers, provided by the Grocery Run program, show the impact the pandemic has had on its customers. (mchb.org/groceryrun)

The organization says many families are struggling due to job and income losses, lack of affordable housing, precarious working conditions and now public health restrictions due to COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, many of our families really suffer from the highest levels of poverty,” said Tran.

“We found that a significant number of families actually spend around 75 to 100 percent of their total income on housing, leaving very little to no financial means to pay for groceries, of course.”

The organization says more than half of the 3,200 people it helps each week are children.

The program helps hundreds of families in need. (Jamie McCannel / CBC)

The program, which has only one full-time employee and relies heavily on volunteers, has now launched a Go Fund Me campaign.

“Our goal is to raise $ 150,000, which seems like a really crazy number, but that number actually boils down to helping 600 families for a year,” said Tran.

The Edmontoners have already raised more than $ 30,000 that has been raised so far.

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