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Helping Vulnerable Seniors Navigate COVID-19 Through Community Programs

United Way Centraide North East Ontario - Monday, 20 July 2020

Program Profile - Extending the Cupboard / Mennonite Central Committee Ontario

In remote North East Ontario, Indigenous families spend close to 50% of their monthly income on food due to elevated costs. With the COVID-19 pandemic, empty shelves in grocery stores, job losses, lay-offs and fixed incomes, Indigenous communities throughout the North East need assistance with basic nutrition. In particular, seniors and elders are experiencing difficulty, as many are vulnerable and have underlying conditions that require ‘shelter in place’.

The Mennonite Central Committee Ontario (MCCO) received $10,000 in funding from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program, deployed through UWCNEO to provide food and nutrition to three vulnerable sectors of the senior Indigenous populations in the Region.

Moose Cree First Nation is a remote or fly-in community of 1,700 members. It is an isolated community where the cost of food is often multiplied two or even three times from that of urban settings, making access to sound nutrition difficult for many. In a unique partnership with the Moose Cree First Nation Health Department, $100 ‘Northern Store’ gift cards are being distributed to 50 of the most vulnerable seniors/elders in the community.

Niska Artisans is a Social Enterprise supported by local Indigenous and Non-Indigenous community organizations. Since 2007, the Program running out of the MCCO office in Timmins has supported 25 Artisans through the purchase of the one-of-a-kind work created by talented Indigenous men and women who supplement their incomes through the sale of their work. During the COVID-19 lock-downs, closures and cancellations, artisans have become under or unemployed. With available funding, MCCO offered grocery gift cards valued at $100 to 25 senior artisans like Pat and Jean. Pat crafts traditional tamarack geese, and carves soapstone, while Jean weaves together stunning Dream Catchers.

Funding has also been utilized to support 50 elder/senior clients of the Emergency Food Bank with a $50 Grocery Gift Card to help make ends meet during these tough times.

Thank you, Merci, and Meegwetch! We are proud to be part of a collective effort supporting vulnerable seniors in our communities’.

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For decades, UWCNEO has been committed to making our community a place where everyone has an opportunity to succeed. In addition to research and advocacy, we invest in the most effective local programs in the areas of poverty, community and kids.