COVID-19: Research finds Saskatchewan authorities assist missing for meals organizations – Saskatoon

During the first 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saskatoon organizations tasked with feeding vulnerable people lacked additional support from the Saskatchewan government, a researcher has determined.

As part of her master’s degree at the University of Saskatchewan, Sadie Childs conducted interviews with leaders of six community-based, food-focused organizations in the city. She found the pandemic led to greater collaborations between the groups and increased community support.

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All organizations reported receiving adequate funding, but primarily from two levels of government.

“It was clear that throughout the pandemic, community-based organizations felt supported by their municipal and federal governments, but there was a lack of support from the provincial government,” Childs wrote in her research project.

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In an interview, the researcher, who has since graduated and now works for CHEP Good Food, said groups “didn’t feel like they were supported at all” by the province.

“If the city was able to provide this support, there’s no reason for the provincial government not to,” Childs said.


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Her analysis also noted how the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit, better known as CERB, and the Surplus Food Rescue Program combated food insecurity.

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“There was no new assistance from the provincial government despite requests,” Childs wrote.

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Childs highlighted a request from the executive director of the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre for additional funding during the pandemic. It was denied by the province, Child said.

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In a statement, a representative for the Ministry of Social Services indicated the government received a proposal in March 2020 from Food Banks of Saskatchewan — the provincial body that includes Saskatoon’s food bank.

“From those conversations, feedback indicated that donations and funding were made available through other levels of government which allowed food banks to address pandemic-related pressures at the time,” said Doris Morrow, executive director of income assistance program service and design with the ministry.

Other surveyed organizations included the Friendship Inn, Inclusion Saskatchewan, Core Neighbourhood Youth Co-op, CHEP, and the Saskatoon Inter-Agency Response to COVID-19.

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Provincial officials were unable to state Wednesday whether the other organizations also made requests for additional funding. Morrow said the ministry continues to work with community partners, while supporting people through income assistance programs.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education said it contacted food organizations funded through the province’s Child Nutrition Program at the start of the pandemic. Organizations said they were adjusting the way they delivered services, according to the government.

“The Ministry of Education did not receive any formal requests from Saskatoon food-based (community-based organizations) for new assistance,” it said in a statement.

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The Child Nutrition Program provided more than 4.8 million meals in 2020-21, according to the government.

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