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Chilliwack Community Food Hub launched as pilot project

Food hub rolling out more than 9,000 meals a week in Chilliwack
Ted Kim, project manager for Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society ladles soup in the new commercial kitchen of the Chilliwack Community Food Hub. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

More than 9,000 meals a week are rolling out of the new Chilliwack Community Food Hub at the Salvation Army site on Yale Road.

The idea for a food hub came together at the outset of the pandemic, when the partners were looking for a way to continue feeding kids since the schools were closed, said Diane Janzen, executive director of Chilliwack Community Services.

“We came up with a vision for a one-stop shop for food security for all of Chilliwack,” Janzen said.

The food hub pilot project was launched Nov. 2 by partners The Salvation Army, Chilliwack Community Services and Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society.

The Food Hub is now producing about 9,200 meals a week to feed those struggling with food security, and features a new commercial kitchen, food storage warehouse, and offices.

“This has been an absolute highlight of 2021 for me,” Janzen said.

The Food Hub concept is being piloted at the Salvation Army but there are long-term plans to eventually move it, as part of a much bigger vision to address food sovereignty in the community and regionally, and will eventually be housed in a larger, more permanent facility somewhere else.

But as it stands hub can take in both small and very large food donations at the food warehouse, store them, sort them, and distribute to other community food security programs.

“We just tremendously grateful to have partners like Community Services and Bowls of Hope so that we can reach so many more people than we ever have before,” said Warren Schatz, the business manager at Salvation Army, adding that the warehouse is where they pack more than 300 monthly hampers to feed the hungry.

The new kitchen is where Bowls of Hope staff prepare nutritious lunches for kids in 23 local schools with their Feed the Children Program.

“We’re so proud of it,” said Cindy Waters, executive director of Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society. “It’s not a big room but we have everything we need to make soup for 850 children in 23 Chilliwack schools.”

They also run Hands Up Chilliwack, an educational initiative that provides families with meal kits and resources on how to prepare budget-friendly, healthy meals.

Several programs from Community Services will benefit from the new facility: Starfish Backpack Program, which supplies 200 elementary school students with backpacks containing food for the weekend to fill the gap in school feeding programs, as well as the Family Place Program, where families are offered free drop-ins and interactive parent-child programs, and the Better Beginnings Program, which equips moms with supplies and support such as food, diapers, vitamins, consultation sessions and more.

The Food Hub also supports: Chilliwack and District Seniors’ Resources Society, Sardis Doorway for Mothers & Children Society, Cyrus Centre, Pacific Community Resources Society, Wilma’s Transition Society, RainCity Housing and Support Society.

Funders who helped the Chilliwack Community Food Hub to become a reality: the City of Chilliwack Reaching Home Program, Reaching Home Vancity Community Foundation Program, the Chilliwack Foundation, and the Rotary Club of Chilliwack.

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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