'More than just a food bank': Literacy, gardening programs focus on ending hunger pangs
The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre offers literacy, urban agriculture, workplace experience programs
The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre's long-term programming is focused on making sure people don't have to use its services.
"Ideally it's going to lead to increased income, and ideally that will lead to less reliance on the food bank," said Jolene Zidkovich, director of community development at the food bank.
Food — or the lack of it — is often an issue for those living below the poverty line.
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That's why the hub offers literacy, urban agriculture and workplace experience programs focused on ending food insecurity for those in-need.
"We've become so much more than just a food bank," Zidkovich said.
Sharpening old skills
Saskatoon residents can brush up on classroom skills they may have forgotten, or never got a chance to learn, with the learning centre's literacy course. Sessions can be particularly useful for those wanting to return to school, Zidkovich said.
The course runs four days a week for over three months.
Another job-related offering is the workplace experience program. It involves a six-month job placement aimed at improving participants' confidence, so they have a better chance at finding work after the sessions are done.
Learn to grow
While most food banks provide food for those in need, the Saskatoon agency also offers something else — it teaches others to grow their own food.
Each year, the City of Saskatoon supplies a city block-sized chunk of land to the food bank for growing various types of produce.
That not only helps people learn new skills and get fresh food — it also has a social aspect.
"That's the beauty of it, is it really does bring the community together," said Zidkovich, adding education and community involvement are key components within each of the food bank's programs.
Residents interested in signing up for sessions can contact the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre directly.
With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend