North Okanagan
Regional Community Food Hub

What is a Regional Community Food Hub?

As a United Way Regional Community Food Hub (RCFH) Steward organization, Land to Table connects and supports community organizations who are working to secure more equitable access to local, sustainable, healthy, and culturally connected food for those living in the North Okanagan.

“Land to Table supports a vision to build a thriving, healthy, just, and resilient regional food system. As a ‘hub steward’, L2T works in collaboration with project partners to build greater community food security, which includes ensuring more local food, grown by our local farmers, is available to those who need it most.

Our Hub is not a physical location or building, but rather an organization working to connect the dots across the regional food system - to create project collaboration, resource sharing and provide coordination capacity.”
Liz Blakeway
Network Director, Land to Table

Why this work is important

A lot has changed over three years as a result of events and disruptions created by the pandemic, extreme climate events, ongoing rising food costs and the housing crisis. Currently, L2T supports three local organizations – known as “Spokes” (to our Hub) – through funding and coordination time. Our goal is to increase their capacity, so that together we can more effectively address food security needs in the North Okanagan. 

We are partnering with the Okanagan Indian Band, The Good Food Box, and the Whitevalley Resource Centre to fill gaps, develop plans, secure additional resources, launch new programs, connect to local food sources, and strengthen volunteer networks.

Growing Together: Advancing Community Food Hub Goals in 2023

As a Hub Steward, in 2023 L2T endeavors to build relationships with new organizations across the region (through meetings and events) to better understand the gaps and map out opportunities for collaboration between local food producers and those working to offer food and meal programs in the community.

This year’s projects include:

  • A Community Food Security Planning Session in March (Event Recap)
  • The launch of the United Way Food Link pilot project to connect emergency food providers with local donations
  • Opportunities to participate in a local food purchasing pilot project for organizations providing food and meal programs in the North Okanagan
  • Continued work with ‘spoke’ organizations to deepen relationships and project impact.

The North Okanagan Food Security Coordinator is funded through the United Way, to support L2T’s Community Food Hub activities in partnership with “spoke” organizations. Sammy, our Coordinator, helps to identify food security opportunities and resources for local partners and assists with coordinating and executing annually funded capacity-building projects.

Sammy Blair - Food Security Coordinator

To learn more about L2T’s role as the Regional Community Food Hub for the North Okanagan, reach out to our food security coordinator Sammy at hello@landtotablenetwork.com

North Okanagan Regional Community Food Hub 2022 in Review

Here are some examples of what we have achieved in partnership with Spoke organizations in 2022, including a description of program support and impact.

Whitevalley Resource Centre – Family & Teen Meal Programs (Lumby, BC)

Family Meal-kit Program

  • WVRC delivered over 1195 free meals through an innovative family meal program. On average, the program served more than 80 people each week. 
  • Meal kits include about 70% pre-prepared, local food ingredients and come with tutorial videos to help families prep at home. 
  • Participants felt empowered by learning new skills and cooking healthy, budget-friendly meals with their families. Parents reported this program also improved family bonding and engaged younger family members in food preparation. 
 

Summer Teen Meal Program

  • WVRC ran a 6-week meal program for 8 teens from May to June, providing 208 meals. This program was offered after identifying a need and interest for programs targeted at teenage youth.
  • Each class the group learned a new recipe and assembled a meal kit to take home to their families. 
  • The program provided hands-on instruction and resources for teens to improve their food literacy, cooking, cleaning skills, and food safety. It also prepared them for the summer job market. 

The Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) – Community Garden Development (Westside Road – Komasket Community Garden)

  • OKIB completed its first full growing season with a 65 bed community garden and dedicated staff-led programming.
  • Hub funding supported OKIB’s community garden staff time, food preservation equipment, workshop delivery and community garden infrastructure and materials.
  • OKIB harvested 900 lbs of food for the community, distributed 450 lbs of it to various OKIB food programs, and preserved 200 lbs of garden produce.
  • OKIB held a successful open house event with 100 attendees, which included activities like flower painting, tours, live music, and Q&A booth, served lunch and dinner featuring produce from the garden and community-sourced foods.
  • The organization also ran community garden workshops on topics like seeding, planting, tomato pruning, and cool weather gardening and all grades of the cultural immersion school participated in planting

The Good Food Box (GFB) – Program Capacity Building (Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby, Mara, Lumby and Cherryville)

  • Hub funding and L2T coordination time supported the creation of a new GFB staff position, who surveyed food box program participants, created a new website, and an online ordering platform, as well as helped build volunteer capacity. These efforts aim to improve efficiency and sustainability in delivering monthly food boxes due to increased demand.
  • GFB is preparing 900+ monthly produce boxes for communities across the North Okanagan. Upgrades to website and delivery systems will improve efficiency and sustainability to meet the increasing demand. Other organizations, such as OKIB and Nexus BC, also purchase boxes for communities in need of greater food security.
    • 60 boxes with eggs, bread, and a local farm fresh item are delivered to vulnerable people ages 60+. Land to Table partnered with the United Way to provide additional funding to extend delivery through February and March 2022 and to conduct a survey of recipients to evaluate program’s impacts.
“United Way British Columbia is proud to work with Land to Table as steward of the North Okanagan Regional Community Food Hub. This partnership supports Land to Table to foster regional collaboration focused on providing direct food support and other food security programming, while growing partnerships with farmers and agricultural partners, and strengthening the sovereignty of Indigenous communities in the area.

Working together, we are strengthening vital connections for North Okanagan communities to help those in need by creating local solutions to food insecurity.”
The North Okanagan Regional Community Food Hub is made possible with support from United Way British Columbia – working with communities in BC’s Interior, Lower Mainland and Central & Northern Vancouver Island and the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.