Michelle Stilwell, minister of social development and social innovation, makes a funding announcement at Loaves and Fishes on Wednesday.

Michelle Stilwell, minister of social development and social innovation, makes a funding announcement at Loaves and Fishes on Wednesday.

Province pledges millions toward poverty reduction, social programs

MLA Michelle Stilwell makes announcement at Nanaimo's Loaves and Fishes

  • Mar. 23, 2017 4:00 p.m.

The B.C. government has pledged millions in an effort address the needs of low-income individuals.

Michelle Stilwell, minister of social development and social innovation, announced on Wednesday at Loaves and Fishes in Nanaimo that the provincial government will commit $24 million towards a range of organizations that strive to reduce poverty and increase services for people with low income.

“We believe that when we provide those supports we enable individuals and families to have access to those increased opportunities and help them find that better place for themselves and their children,” Stilwell said.

The investment includes $10 million for Food Banks B.C., which will be used to improve transportation, storage and supply chain networks of the organization’s 100 food bank locations.

B.C. Healthy Kids Program will receive an extra $6 million annually, while the B.C. Dental Association will receive $1 million to help cover operational and capital costs for 20-non profit dental clinics.

The province’s Community Poverty Reduction fund, which aims to address poverty at local levels, will receive $7 million.

Stilwell praised Loaves and Fishes’ food recovery program and supply chain network, calling it a “true” model for other food banks across the province. She said the investment in food banks is critical because too many are forced to reject certain food due to a lack of storage facilities and adequate transportation networks.

“In British Columbia, food banks turn down thousands of pounds of perfectly good donated food, vegetables, fruits, milk products because their facilities simply don’t have what they need to store it and then deliver it out into the community. They don’t have the refrigeration capacity,” she said.

Peter Sinclair, executive director at Loaves and Fishes, said the government’s investment will help the food bank recover more food than before.

“We are confident that we can access even more food in the community through this support that we’ve received from the government and we are confident that this model that we’ve found so successful here in Nanaimo can be replicated throughout the province,” he said.

reporter2@nanaimobulletin.com

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