Two students in the Selkirk College nursing program started a six-week practicum with the Community Harvest Food Bank on May 11 to help with outreach initiatives in Castlegar.
Starting off, food bank staff will introduce the students to vulnerable people currently being provided temporary accommodation at motels during the COVID-19 crisis. Students will also be introduced to vulnerable residents in other areas of the city.
At the same time, the students will also have a tent set up outside the food bank on Mondays to help people access support services in Castlegar.
Food bank co-ordinator Deb McIntosh said the support services will cover a wide array of things.
“It could be as simple as getting harm-reduction supplies for those in the community. That includes people who might have an injured foot or someone who might have abscess on their arm from drug usage,” said McIntosh.
“People also might just need a referral to see somebody in Castlegar.”
Some other supplies the students could be giving vulnerable residents are socks, vitamins and hygiene products.
To help gather the supplies, the students will be reaching out to dentist offices, hotels and other local organizations.
During the practicum, the students will also create a needs assessment and resource evaluation to see how the city could better help vulnerable residents.
McIntosh said she’s hopeful more support services will be provided to vulnerable residents in Castlegar after the assessment is completed.
“From the food bank perspective, we’re hoping this will establish an ongoing community outreach nursing program throughout the year,” said McIntosh. “Poverty, addiction and mental health aren’t seasonal things, they’re year-round issues.
“It would be nice to have a permanent person in Castlegar to check in on these folks that are trained to do so. It would be great if they could have a person in the city that they could constantly connect with.”
Similar outreach programs have already been launched in Nelson and Trail.
The Castlegar food bank has already seen a significant rise in demand for its services during the COVID-19 crisis.