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CFN's Holiday Season Food Security Campaign– it's about so much more than food



This Holiday Season give the gift of comfort, dignity, and home with your donation of food, gift cards or a direct financial contribution to CFN’s Food Security Campaign. Your donation will result in the direct home delivery of culturally appropriate food to vulnerable newcomer families.


Contact us at c.ye@centrefornewcomers.ca to drop off food or gift cards, make your donations at centrefornewcomers.ca/give, and direct mail to Centre for Newcomers, 125, 565 - 36 Street NE Calgary, AB T2A 6K3.


If you’ve ever travelled to a new city or country and found that you were missing the food from home, you may relate to some of our new Calgarians. Perhaps the food on your trip was too different, bland, or spicy; you weren’t sure where to eat, what to order, or what to buy at the market. Not all new Calgarians need food support, but for those who do, culturally appropriate food is key. It’s easier to absorb and adapt to new beginnings when you have a sense of something familiar, something fundamental – such as food.


ACCESS

Access to food is challenging for vulnerable people. Many times, newcomers aren’t able to go to the store and buy groceries because of financial means. They need connections to income (even temporarily), transportation, English language training and more. To complicate matters, the entire shopping experience, signage, food labels and more are in English.


DIGNITY

“Is this confidential?” Many new people pride themselves on being independent and able to provide for their families. Often times, they are afraid or embarrassed to ask for assistance, or originate from places where seeking food assistance is frowned upon and culturally shamed. Food hampers are delivered in a dignified way and often don’t identify recipients’ names on the labels.



COMFORT

A good home cooked meal provides essential, constructive foundations when so many other parts of life are new. Adapting to a new city, culture, language, and environment (hello, Calgary winters) becomes more achievable fuelled by the comforts of home cooked meals you grew up with.


BELONGING

Providing food that aligns with a person’s values and cultural beliefs is recognition and validation that we understand what’s important to that person. It’s also about leading with respect, such as providing vegetarian options for people who cannot eat meat.


NOT EVERYONE GREW UP EATING MACARONI AND CHEESE

Why culturally appropriate food, you ask? The staples we count on aren’t always recognizable to new Calgarians.

  • It isn’t food they know.

  • They’re not used to cooking it, and many times don’t know how.

  • The labels are in English.

  • And if you need to feed a family, the challenges are compounded.

We work to provide different staples that are common for people’s daily life in other parts of the world.


“We become accustomed to certain foods based on our life experiences. People have a natural reluctance toward foods and food combinations that are unfamiliar.”


THERE IS A REAL NEED FOR CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE FOOD IN CALGARY


Having recognized the need for culturally appropriate food for new Calgarians, CFN led the charge to respond. When the pandemic hit, CFN convened other willing and generous partners.


Together, we operate the Calgary East Zone Newcomers Collaborative (CENC), a collective response to the needs for food security in Calgary’s northeast quadrant. CFN continues to lead the CENC as the demand and new Calgarians’ needs increase.



“Food banks and charities often rely on donations of whatever a supermarket or restaurant has too much of or is leftover, so they are not usually well placed to provide culturally appropriate foods.”

Jenny Smith, CEO of Council to Homeless Persons, adds that mainstream food banks often try their best to provide those comforting meals, but due to limited resources, it can be “really difficult.”



FOOD IS A CRITICAL ENTRY POINT

It is a key enabler to helping new people adapt to life in Calgary. Faster.

Obtaining culturally appropriate food is often the start of meeting a person’s needs and helping them integrate into a new community.


When a person calls they may initially ask for food assistance, but that leads to a much broader conversation about other needs. It can often begin connections to the entire collaborative of support available (200+ organizations).


The response is a collective and holistic approach to identifying newcomers’ needs and pairing up resources (e.g., employment, language training, mental health, domestic violence and more)

  • Conversations can be conducted in 25+ languages with the ability for up to 72 languages.

  • CFN leads the response to requests for food


IMPACTFUL AND UNIQUE

  • Food delivered right to the doorstep (Not available with other programs. Mitigates challenges of economic barriers, transportation, social distancing, quarantining, and more)

  • Language flexibility

  • A holistic, community-led and coordinated response


THE NEED IS BEYONG CALGARY'S NE

Collaborative. Intended for serving vulnerable populations in Calgary’s East Side, incoming requests are exceeding anticipated needs and expanding beyond the East Side.

  • Up to 2,000 food requests per month

  • Calls originating from other parts of the city, plus Airdrie, Cochrane & Okotoks



WHERE DOES MY GIFT GO?

  • Your gift to providing culturally appropriate food in Calgary helps with:

  • Purchasing ingredients: sourcing culturally appropriate items at a cost-effective rate

  • Creating food hampers: day-to-day procurement, preparation, sorting and packaging of food.

  • Food distribution: doorstep delivery for all clients to mitigate economic and geographic barriers.

  • Space and logistics support: to support food storage, preparation, transportation and more.

  • Person-power: staff and volunteers required to make this work happen

Please let us know if there is a part of the program that appeals to you most.



YOUR SUPPORT IS NEEDED RIGHT NOW

Seed funds have been sourced from government providers and other funders to make this initiative come to life. In order to sustain and grow this initiative, CFN is championing the efforts to raise enough funds to sustain and grow the response and match the community’s needs, year round.




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