The Gleaning Abundance Program (GAP), going into its seventh year, has become a mainstay of the Kamloops harvest season, and is relied on by fruit-tree owners, gleaners, and recipient agencies to help see that our local abundance is harvested and shared with people in our community who need it. One of the most rewarding parts of the gleaning program is delivering fruit to our recipients. People are always glad to see us and are appreciative of the variety of fresh fruit that we bring them over the course of the season.
When we started out, there were only a handful of agencies on our recipient list. Over the years, we have connected with many more organizations in our community that provide services to food-insecure populations. We now deliver fruit (and sometimes vegetables) to over 20 different local organizations and we discover new partners to connect with each year. We often make these connections through conversations at our monthly Kamloops Food Policy Council network potlucks.
Family Tree Centre has been on our recipient list for several years now and is a regular stop on our downtown delivery route. The Centre is operated by the Kamloops Family Resources Society, whose mission is to support families to overcome challenges. When you walk in the door of their downtown centre, it feels like you’re just dropping in on a friend. It’s a busy place and there are usually several moms and kids playing, having a snack, or just hanging out. The staff have created a warm and welcoming environment that really feels like a home.
Their Drop In Program runs Monday to Thursday from 9 - 4 and Saturdays from 9 - 1:30. Children and parents experience a safe, non-judgmental social setting that offers a healthy hot breakfast and lunch, clothing and baby equipment exchange, free bread, take home food bags, circle time, and craft time. Visitors can also access a variety of professional programs and services during their drop in, such as Baby’s Headstart, Infant Development, Drug and Alcohol Counselling, Living in Balance Recovery Program, and more.
Family Tree also oversees a Mothers for Recovery Mentorship Program and a peer-led Mothers for Recovery Support Group which runs Friday mornings from 9 - 11. The mentorship program brings together mothers who are at least one year clean and sober from all substances with women who are new to recovery. Life-skills workshops are facilitated by the mentors, staff, and community professionals. Successful workshops have included Healthy Boundaries, Healthy Female Relationships, Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms, Healthy Parenting, and Relapse Prevention. On-site childminding is provided for these groups.
The gleaned fruit we bring is often baked into cobblers, crisps, crumbles, or just made available fresh for folks to take home. The staff have also set up garden space in the back where they plant vegetables and herbs to help offset food costs and enrich their lunch offerings. Food insecurity is an ongoing challenge for families experiencing poverty, dealing with addictions, and managing other health issues. Having a safe, welcoming space to take their kids for a healthy snack or a meal can mean a lot to a struggling parent. The comments left on the Family Tree Facebook page show that they provide a much-needed and much-appreciated service. We know that household food insecurity is an issue of poverty that needs to be addressed at a higher political level, but in the meantime, we are grateful that there are places like Family Tree Centre to support struggling families and help parents feed themselves and their kids.