By Catherine Bowen, KFPC Social Work Practicum Student
In order to complete a bachelor’s degree in social work, a student must amass a certain amount of practicum hours.While many of my peers were placed in government agencies for their final practicum, I was placed at the Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC). I will admit that I was a little apprehensive at first, concerned that I might not gain the necessary skills to enter the field. However, in the past couple months with the KFPC I have learned that the organization’s values are consistent with social work standards of practice (noted with italics throughout the column) and that the KFPC has made a remarkable contribution to the community of Kamloops.
The history of the KFPC is full of examples that illustrate this organization’s commitment to social justice. Since 1995, the KFPC has been involved in developing pillars in Kamloops’ food security system such as the Kamloops FoodShare and the GardenGate Horticulture Program. They were also involved in creating the Community Kitchens and Community Garden programs which are currently run by Interior Community Services. These programs offer affordable ways to eat healthy food and gain new connections in the community. Currently, the organization aims to promote immediate food security with services such as the Gleaning Abundance Program which focuses on harvesting and redistributing unused fresh produce. As well, long term social change is addressed by the KFPC by initiatives such as the Nourish event, which united community members to plan actions to address Indigenous food sovereignty and poverty.
Additionally, the KFPC office is located within the same building as Interior Community Services’ Mount Paul Community Food Centre, which had its grand opening in early June. The Food Centre’s goal is to provide a space for people to gain access to healthy food, kitchen and gardening skills, and new connections in the community. Everyone is welcome to take part in the free programs that occur at the Food Centre, which is absolutely bustling with people who embody the value of respect for the inherent dignity and worth of all humans.
In May, the Kamloops’ Farm to School Spring Celebration was held in the Community Food Centre. Around 100 grade 5 and 6 students came from 13 different schools associated with the Farm to School program. They participated in hands-on activities that aimed to increase knowledge around food security and food waste reduction. Between the organizers of the event and the community partners who hosted the educational booths, everyone involved demonstrated great competence. The KFPC had two booths – one that gave students a chance to use the KFPC’s seed winnower to clean bean seeds while the other allowed the students to feed chickens food scraps to demonstrate the use of chickens for holistic garden health. Five of the chickens will be staying at the Food Centre all summer for future educational purposes.
I am truly grateful for my placement with the KFPC. Having a healthy community starts with access to culturally appropriate and nutritious food for every member of the community, regardless of their income or cultural background. The undertakings that I have witnessed during my time here has renewed my faith that change is possible in a community like Kamloops, and that it involves a lot of commitment to working together.
Interested in food security and the KFPC? Come take part in a network meeting, with legendary potluck, on the first Wednesday of every month, or the Annual General Meeting on August 7th. Meetings are located at the Mount Paul Community Food Centre at 140 Laburnum Street from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.