Written by Lynne McCarron (WeavEast Fellow, Nova Scotia)
Forty five years ago, my parents adopted an eighteen month old boy, a brother for their three girls. At that time, there were Orphanages here and children were placed into foster care on a trial basis for adoption. My brother Craig was with us only a couple of weeks and although my parents knew that there was something amiss, they couldn’t send him back to the orphanage. With no birth records, it took my parents seven years to have him diagnosed with an intellectual disability and their journey continued. They fought for support, created programs to address gaps in services and were the strongest advocates for children with disabilities. Their passion and dedication influenced me and I ventured into the nonprofit world fighting for the most vulnerable population. The longer I work in the field, the more I realize how important advocacy is to our most disadvantaged citizens.
Fast forward a few years of working, attending conferences and learning, I landed at United Way to try to make changes in our communities. I was doing a presentation at our local council meeting about our public transportation system and how it needed to be revamped. During this presentation, I was talking about providing bus passes to individuals that needed to access education and employment opportunities not to mention basic needs such as food. We didn’t have passes at that time, so we needed to create a process for this to happen which included providing the financial resources to purchase the passes for those who could not afford it (which we did with corporate sponsorship). At this meeting, a number of councillors represented rural areas that did not have access to public transit, and wanted to know if there was a plan for those citizens. While I didn’t have a plan at that time, it planted a seed and now we are about to embark on a new adventure.
United Way began working with the Ecology Action Centre and the Island Food Network, Public Health as well as representatives of our municipality (transit & recreation). Through this process, we were needing to partner with an organization that could take the lead on executing and administering this project. New Dawn Meals on Wheels was brought in and we started the process of developing a Mobile Food Market in CBRM.
We held our first information session and were excited to hear the community feedback. In August we plan to launch a mobile Food Market – “The Good Food Bus”. The bus will take healthy affordable food to those communities that are having difficulty accessing it. Not only do we have a strong group of individuals working behind the scenes on this, we are now in the process of researching who we can partner with in each community. Partners such as church groups, volunteer fire departments, service groups, etc. will be working to build a network in each community to host the market.