Projects aimed at helping break down barriers to transportation and helping youth learn about farming and growing community food security are some of the 49 projects sharing $600,000 in the first year of the Building Vibrant Communities grants program.
The program is part of government’s poverty reduction commitment. Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine and Community Services Minister Kelly Regan announced the year-one recipients of the Building Vibrant Communities grants program today, May 1.
Grant recipients include community organizations, such as the Halifax Public Libraries, which will receive $50,000 to roll out its FoodSmart project. The program will focus on seven communities in the Halifax area where food security is a concern, providing access to healthy snacks and food.
“Food brings people together, and as a free and welcoming public space, the library is uniquely positioned to do the same. Over the past year, we’ve had amazing success hosting food-focused programs that respond to diverse needs and build capacity in our communities,” said Karen Dahl, manager, program development, Halifax Public Libraries. “The Building Vibrant Communities grant is planting seeds for change at a grassroots level. The library is thrilled to be a steward of this change.
“Through FoodSmart, we can continue the important work of addressing food security issues and improving food literacy in our communities.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association of Kings County also received $50,000 in partnership with the Grow Happy Food and Soup initiative to ensure nutritious food is accessible and available year-round.
“All Nova Scotians benefit when we work together to reduce the cycle of poverty,” said Mr. Glavine. “This collaborative, community-focused initiative will support more people to exit poverty by improving access to nutritious food, and offering knowledge and skills development programs that will increase food literacy.
“By working to reduce poverty, we are helping to strengthen our communities and helping to ensure more Nova Scotians have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
The project supports local community gardens and greenhouses and addresses food insecurity by bringing communities together in local kitchens, teaching participants skills in cooking, basic nutrition and how to shop for groceries. The community kitchens also provide safe training spaces and employment opportunities for individuals.
“We are thrilled to receive this funding which recognizes the importance of the work that all of our partners have been doing and the need in the community for access to food,” said program co-ordinator for the Canadian Mental Health Association of Kings County, Sarah MacDonald. “Now we have staff resources to stabilize and continue to build kitchens, gardens, greenhouses as well as establishing a restaurant for social good and transitional employment.”
There are currently kitchens called SOUP, Sharing our Unappreciated Produce, in Kentville, Berwick, Middleton, Kingston and New Minas, with plans to expand to other communities.
“Poverty affects people in different ways – not having enough food, not being able to access transportation for themselves or their families,” said Ms. Regan. “The Building Vibrant Communities grants program is just one way we are working to address poverty in Nova Scotia.
“Working with community groups like the Halifax Public Libraries helps us reach those who need help the most and make a real change in their lives.”
The grant program is part of government’s poverty reduction investment. Over the next four years government has committed $20 million to support actions from all levels of government and communities to work collaboratively to help reduce poverty in Nova Scotia.
For a list of the grant recipients, visit https://cch.novascotia.ca/building-vibrant-communities-grant .