Nova Scotia

Community group in Louisbourg helps feed those in need

Food insecurity has become a common concern these days, but it has hit home with some sad stories in Louisbourg, N.S.

In response, The New Food Initiatives and Security project, which is run out of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 62, is taking action to deliver healthy meals and food to people living in and around the town.

“Our team is a mix of volunteers and paid staff, all of whom are extremely dedicated and all of whom were vetted extensively to ensure they were the best people for these positions,” legion treasurer Eva MacKeigan, who also helps run the food security project, told CBC’s Mainstreet Cape Breton. 

“The thing that I didn’t know before this program started was there are many men who have lost their wives, who have never cooked in their lives,” MacKeigan said.

“They went straight from their mom’s house to their home with their wife and once the wife has passed on, we’re seeing 70, 75-year-old men who simply don’t know how to make a meal and they don’t know how to shop for a meal.”

Some people go days and even weeks without a proper meal, MacKeigan said.

Information Morning – Cape Breton6:43Louisbourg Legion now delivering meals to 800 people

A full serving of community service: We launch a series of conversations with Cape Breton organizations helping tackle food insecurity. One group that received funding is the Louisbourg Legion.

MacKeigan said they took a grocery order to one community member “who on Dec. 9 had one can of Chunky soup in his cupboard that was to last him until Dec. 28 when he received his pension.”

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In addition, the legion has found some children who are not attending school because they don’t have food to take for lunches or snacks.

Eva MacKeigan says anyone in need living in or near Louisbourg is eligible for help with food security. The program is confidential and no questions are asked. (Kyle Moore/CBC)

Funding for the project came from the legion which received $200,000 from the Nova Scotia government to try to improve food security in the area.

Staff prepare meals and assemble packages containing easy-to-prepare meals, which are delivered every two weeks along with fresh fruit and vegetables and a few pantry essentials.

The project also uses the funding to offer classes where adults can learn recipes and then take home the ingredients.

They also offer classes for youths who learn to assemble healthy lunches and get take-home ingredients to make school lunches and snacks for their siblings.

Mainstreet Cape Breton9:06Pilot program for food security in Louisbourg

The New Food Initiatives and Security project will provide a range of services for those who live in rural parts of CBRM (between Hornes Road and Louisbourg).

Louisbourg, a fishing and tourist community, is hurting. Its only school closed in 2017, there’s no gas station and the only bank branch has also closed.

Bob McIsaac, who recently moved back to the community to take care of a family member, said not everyone has a vehicle. He said for those who do, the cost of driving 70 kilometres round trip to Sydney to buy groceries has become too high.

He said he was glad to discover the legion’s meal delivery program.

A man with sunglasses pushed up on top of his head speaks into a news reporter's microphone.
Bob McIsaac recently moved back to Louisbourg to help care for a family member and says the meal program is helping bring the community together. (Kyle Moore/CBC)

“I don’t think everybody has access to get into town all the time … so any help that anybody can get is definitely needed,” McIsaac said.

“It’s bringing the community together, which it’s lacked in the last number of years.”

MacKeigan said the the program began earlier this month and already serves nearly 900 people. The majority are male.

She said anyone in need living between Hornes Road and Louisbourg — including the communities of Main-a-Dieu, Bateston, Catalone and Trout Brook Road — can sign up for the program.

Anyone who needs help is eligible and people’s names are kept confidential, MacKeigan said.

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