Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Community programs in Queens, Lunenburg and Chester have received a much-needed boost after the second round of Community Support Funding was announced by the Government of Canada. This is the final round of a $350 million funding announcement made in May 2020.
The program is being administered by the Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada, and the United Way. The funding was meant to get funds to the most vulnerable that have been affected by COVID-19.
On the South Shore, the money was distributed by the United Way of Lunenburg County. In this second round, that organization was allocated $52,935 to give out to 11 different programs to help with food insecurity, homelessness, socialization, emergency support, personal protection equipment (PPE) and health.
The coordinator of United Way of Lunenburg County, Michael Graves, stressed the importance of the funding.
"One in four children on the South Shore live with food insecurity. That is a large number, so 40 per cent of the funding we received went to help with that," he said. "Another 35 per cent went to fund housing. We have a serious problem with this here. Vacancies are super low, I think less than one per cent, and the housing that is available is expensive."
The funding for housing went to Freeman House in Bridgewater to assist with emergency shelter options, housing start-up costs and other related expenses.
In Queens and Lunenburg counties, some of the funds will go to the RootED School Food fund that will help schools purchase the various equipment adaptations needed because of COVID-19 and to provide free/equity meals to those who need them most.
The money will also go to the YMCA's program to empower youth and young adults which is called Healthy Family Meal Kit Delivery Service – Home Cooking.
This community initiative will provide enough groceries for three meals per kit (breakfast, lunch and dinner) per household, a pantry staples box, a cookbook with recipes and access to instructional cooking videos.
Also receiving funds are Hinchinbrook Farm in Lunenburg County for the purchase of PPEs; Our Health Centre – food box challenge in the Municipality of Chester; VON Lunenburg County adult day program in Lunenburg; Senior Safety programs in various locations; Kidney Foundation for short-term financial assistance; St. Vincent de Paul for new beds; South Shore Sexual Health – period packs; and the Chester Art Centre for its Open Studio Outreach Program.
The first round of funding included $174,000 for the South Shore that was distributed among 19 different organizations/projects. This money was dispersed in July.
Graves said the funding is helpful, but it's only a stop-gap.
"In a country as rich as Canada, that people are still starving and living in poor housing conditions is just crazy. It is ridiculous. Something with long-term benefits has to be done," said Graves.