The challenges facing the Bear Clan program aimed at tackling food insecurity
WINNIPEG -- The Bear Clan’s program aimed at helping low-income residents access fruit, bread and meats is facing a number of challenges to allow it to continue in the future, according to a new report.
The Bear Clan Patrol Food Security program was created in January 2019 in order to improve food security in Winnipeg’s Point Douglas area, a food desert with a high number of low-income residents. The charitable program runs six to seven days a week and uses food that is near expiry or deemed unsellable by grocers.
Between July and August 2019 the program was evaluated through the analysis of records, interviews with staff and volunteers, the observation of operations and a five-person focus group. The review found that though the program is having a positive impact on the community, it’s dealing with a number of issues to allow it to continue in the future.
THE PROGRAM’S REACH
Between January and June 2019, the food security program served 12,125 people, with participation increasing steadily.
The report notes the group distributed 71,185 tonnes of food between January and August 2019, and the program has helped a diverse group of people, ranging from young families to older adults.
From January to July 2019, the program’s expenditures came to $57,969, with staff salaries making up almost half of this total.
THE PROGAM’S IMPACT
The review found the program has “significantly” helped improve access to fresh fruits, vegetables and bread for those using the service, and that people reported improved health as a result.
According to the report, the food security program helped reduce stress for parents, allowed people to supplement their food budget, and helped build community connections.
The report found the program faces the following issues in terms of its future viability:
- Not enough space for the amount of food that’s distributed;
- Onsite freezers and refrigerators are needed to store perishable foods;
- The electrical infrastructure at the Bear Clan den is inadequate in supporting freezer and fridge expansion;
- The Bear Clan den is not wheelchair accessible;
- A lack of long-term funding;
- The potential for staff and volunteer burnout; and
- Potential security issues.
The review found that staff, volunteers and patrons want to see programming expand to help with addiction support and services in the future.