by Stephen Dafoe
With current economic conditions affecting more and more families in Sturgeon County, local agencies are doing all they can to help. A new program being rolled out in May will help struggling families stretch their food dollars until the end of the month.
Sunflower Community Resource Program has been working with area Family and Community Support Services departments to roll out the WECAN Program, which has been operating in Edmonton for about 20 years and provides monthly food baskets to members for $25.
“It’s a bulk food buying program. It only focuses on fruits, and veggies, and meat,” explained Sunflower Program Coordinator Amy Dribnenky. “They partner with the Grocery People, so they get discounts.”
Dribnenky said she had been working with WECAN for the past eight months to launch the program locally to be another resource in providing affordable healthy food for those in need.
“The social worker that started it found that by about the third week of the month, school kids were coming to school with less and less lunch, sometimes nothing,” Dribnenky said. “That’s when people tend to be running out of money.”
Participants in the WECAN program pay an annual $5 membership, allowing them to purchase the food baskets at the beginning of the month. Fruit and vegetable baskets consist of a quantity of three fruits and three vegetables for $10. Meat baskets are $15 and give the member three types of meat. Dribnenky said most people purchase one of each basket for $25.
“You pay at the beginning of the month when you’ve got the most money, and the third week of the month is when the food comes in and you can go and pick it up,” she said.
A monthly newsletter offers both a price comparison of the products if purchased at various stores, as well as recipes that correspond with the food in the baskets.
Dribnenky said depots launch in Bon Accord and Gibbons in May, and that she is presently working with Morinville’s FCSS Department to get one running in Morinville for the same date.
The launch can’t come soon enough for Dribnenky’s agency who is feeling the need growing.
“We’ve been watching a huge increase in numbers here,” she said. “People are coming in with financial difficulty and needing these supports. And the only resource we have is the food bank, and you can only access the food bank once a month.”
For more information on Sunflower Community Resources or the WCAN program contact Amy Dribnenky at 780-923-2374 or visit sunflowerinfoline.ca.