As pandemic funds for low-income nutrition program dry up, Manitoba organizations collaborate

The end of a provincial food program has encouraged a new local collaboration in response to the growing needs of low-income community members.

The province announced that the pandemic funding for the home nutrition and learning program would end on June 30, causing representatives from local organizations to hop into action to help those who received weekly food hampers through the program.

Harvest Manitoba and Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre are teaming up to ensure those people continue to receive the help they need as the cost of living goes up.

“We know that wages and assistance haven’t kept pace with those increases … Families are really struggling to make those dollars stretch even more so than they did pre-pandemic,” said Tammy Christensen, a program support worker with the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre in an interview with Faith Fundal on CBC Manitoba’s Up to Speed.

With the help of the home nutrition program, Christensen say the centre provided food hampers to roughly 2,200 families. 

Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata gave out weekly hampers to 2,200 families throughout the pandemic through the provincial food program. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

Harvest Manitoba is currently experiencing record high demand for its food hamper program with over 35,000 people being served across Manitoba in the month of May, including more than14,000 children. 

Now that the provincial program is over, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre will refer people who need help to Harvest Manitoba to ensure they still have access to food hampers. 

“Adding more families to [the hamper program], we want to make sure that we’re there to support those families and the support of Ma Mawi to help us in trying to raise food, raise funds and bring volunteers to that activity is going to be absolutely critical as we move forward,” Vince Barletta, the president and CEO of Harvest Manitoba, said on Up to Speed on Tuesday.

Both agencies are expecting more people to come seeking help in the coming weeks following the end of the provincial food program.

People can help by supporting Manitoba Harvest through donations of food, money and volunteer time to meet the increasing need, Barletta said.

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