Location: Cherryville, BC
Organization Description: Cherryville Community Food & Resource Society (CCF&RS) supports the community in a variety of ways, food security is a main component. They have had a vision for branching into community resources for years and over the past three they have moved into broadening their reach to Cherryville residents and surrounding areas. They provide employment opportunities for local youth through their Community Garden and Food Bank building, support Cherryville Elementary School through the Hot Lunch and Milk Program, Food Packs for Summer, DVM Youth Summer Camp, and with volunteer opportunities during Christmas Hampers and Gifts event. They bridged services into Nakusp by transporting perishable and non-perishable items that are in excess to reduce waste, increase food security, and create community connectedness as part of the Network of Sharing initiative started with Lake Country Food Bank in 2017.
Cherryville has a massive older adult population, many of whom are low-income and live with complex physical and mental health needs. CCF&RS started offering basic services like check-in calls, socially distanced visits, and transportation services. In October 2020, they launched a pre-made meal program which has been a massive success. They capitalized on this opportunity to provide resources to older adults by adding pamphlets and posters to their meal packages, as information dissemination is a major barrier. Their doors formally opened in July 2021 as an official Resource Center in which anyone in the community can access an outreach worker three days a week. The primary vision is to connect individuals with their needed supports, offer information and referral on behalf of residents (particularly older adults), providing application support, coordinating efforts to bridge services into Cherryville that are identified by residents as most important, and launching transportation/friendly visiting programs for seniors.
Strengths: CCF&RS collaborate with Cherryville Senior Society and Cherryville Community Club to address senior-related issues in Cherryville and continue to support one another. Additionally, they connected with Lumby & District Health Services and White Valley Community Resource Centre to further their vision of expanding into community resources for the Cherryville area. Establishing a collaborative relationship between organizations has allowed them to actively bridge community-based supports directly into Cherryville via workshops, information sessions, health-based services and more. Over the past few years, CCF&RS have focused on strengthening organizational structure through clear policy and procedures, data tracking and reporting methods, and marketing efforts to foster awareness of the supports and services available at the organization and elsewhere. Going forward CCF&RS will continue to build on these efforts, strengthen their networks, and respond to the needs inherent within their unique community.
Challenges: Cherryville is a rural community based 30km from the next small town and 60km away from a major urban centre where majority of services and resources are situated. During the pandemic, Cherryville residents were left particularly vulnerable for many reasons, one of which being a lack of resources and services based in the community itself. The primary resource Cherryville has is the food bank which provides food security to anyone in the community in need. During the pandemic, hamper distribution increased by 30% and they quickly recognized a growing need for increased support among the entire population. Over 40% of Cherryville residents are older adults and 30% of them are low income. Further, 26% of Cherryville residents 18-64 (in 2015) were classified as low-income. With a high percentage of low-income residents, the lack of resources and services within community was a barrier particularly during COVID-19. CCF&RS quickly recognized the need to respond to the most impacted and started expanding on the resources and services they could provide. They have successful launched senior services, including a frozen meal program, friendly visiting/check-ins, transportation services, and peer support/system navigation.
Impact: CCF&RS is lucky to be situated in such a caring, giving, and supportive community. With all the recent program initiatives and changes in mission and vision, it is due to the ample support of local stakeholders they have grown and expanded. Most recently approved, CCF&RS will be expanding their physical space to accommodate the substantial growth in service delivery. This addition will include an office space and large meeting area to assist in community resources, service programs and initiatives. These are exciting changes that continue to impact CCF&RS and their continual and long-term involvement in the Cherryville community.
Adaptations due to COVID-19:
Adaptations due to COVID-19:The biggest change was switching to appointment-only for food hampers and services. The vision is to create a drop-in centre where anyone can access support on a consistent basis. Early on CCF&RS worked hard to implement policy and procedures that aligned with the CDC and Public Health. All staff and volunteers are aware of the new protocols and maintain social distancing requirements. They also ordered 1,500.00 worth of PPE (hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, masks, gloves, and shields) and have placed posters in clearly marked areas, so everyone is continually reminded of safe practices. All volunteers sign the "Checklist and Agreement for Volunteers Providing Services" issued through Safe Seniors, Resilient Communities and are supported to ensure safe practices are maintained. These protocols, practices, and expectations will remain in place until otherwise advised by our government.