The local Community Advisory Board has excluded the Kelowna Community Food Bank from applying for Homelessness Partnering Strategy funding through 2014.
HPS funding is derived from federal government dollars that enter a community with the purpose of preventing and or reducing homelessness across Canada.
With the current initiative, $1.6 million has been earmarked for local distribution.
The Kelowna Community Food Bank has been a recipient of HPS funding since 2004.
The food bank nutrition improvement programs help play a role in the HPS mandate, as each household served is at imminent risk of eviction.
The Community Advisory Board, comprised of 17 government and community agencies facilitated by Central Okanagan Regional District, formed to identify and recommend community HPS funding priorities through 2014.
The CAB Community Plan, submitted and approved by Service Canada in August, identified three funding priorities—outreach, case management and information exchange.
“This is a major oversight resulting from a flawed consultation process,” said Vonnie Lavers, executive director of the Kelowna food bank, in a press release.
“Although we submitted an online survey questionnaire, we did not feel a part of the consultations.
“We are very disappointed in the content of the plan and by the way the so-called consultation was conducted.”
Lavers lists a number of concerns including a short time frame and lack of transparency.
“There was no public notice, we were not invited to attend a meeting and did not receive a draft copy before the plan was submitted,” she said.
“The preventative role we play and the importance of food and nutrition in our overall community health was completely ignored.”
Lavers says that under the present terms, the food bank cannot apply for HPS funding until after 2014.
“We don’t have outreach workers; however we are a major resource for outreach workers and all the agencies we serve, including those on the CAB. We need funds for food so that we can keep at-risk families in their homes.”
Last year, approximately 13,000 individual households accessed food bank services, Lavers said.
“ We help people lower their monthly food bill so they can stay housed.”
Lavers says that Service Canada allows for up to 10 program issues to be defined in the Community Plan, which identifies seven and of those, only three are listed as priorities.
“We requested the plan be amended to include a fourth priority: food, nutrition and prevention.”
Members of the public interested in reviewing the plan are encouraged to visit The Kelowna Food Bank’s website at www.KelownaFoodBank.com.