Three years ago, Yale First Nation introduced a once-per-month program to provide fresh vegetables to all households in the community. The initiative put into play Yale leadership's value of "feeding the people" – based on the belief that without a roof over their heads and full bellies, people could not make good life decisions.
Each month, Yale's at-home population receives a welcome boost to their food budget. Yale's Health Director, Laureen Duerksen, plans to keep with the community's philosophy of equality and all 34 households (representing about 100 people) receive identical deliveries, regardless of circumstance. Even so, the community itself has established that the most vulnerable are given priority.
The success of the program is due in large part to a Chilliwack-based farm/business, The Local Harvest Market, which sells locally grown and seasonal produce, and extends a special price of 10% off wholesale to Yale First Nations. Each month, Laureen loads up her RAV4 in Chilliwack and transports the bounty to Yale, where she and her staff package it up proportionally and then deliver to each household. For approximately $6 per person, the community is fed with fresh, local produce for about a week.
Recently, the inspiration for a new way to improve the program came when an Elder made the comment, "Where's the beef?" upon delivery. The community thus recognized that protein needed to be added sometimes in order to really make the program effective. On these occasions, the delivery contains a recipe provided by the community's dietician, along with all the ingredients needed to make it (including protein) and a baked good or bread to complement the meal.
In March this year, the 2019 FNHA Winter Wellness Grant was used to ensure that Yale's 34 households received everything needed to make hamburger soup. With donations of beef and bread, it meant the monthly delivery included the recipe, all the veggies, two pounds of ground beef, a litre of reduced-salt beef broth, seasonings and a loaf of whole grain bread. Simple enough for most people to make, the recipe yields two budget-friendly, nourishing meals for a family of four.
Yale First Nation truly promotes healthy eating as a wellness stream and Laureen has seen the program become a mainstay for the community. Members are able to stretch their budgets even more effectively by factoring in reliable resources. If circumstances delay the delivery, she always receives emails asking what is going on. In months where funding goes elsewhere—for instance, towards a Christmas dinner and gifts for children in December—citizens can anticipate and understand the substitution and plan accordingly.
With the help of a 2019 FNHA Winter Wellness Grant, Yale has firmly established nutrition as a daily foundation for the best overall wellness outcomes for its members.
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