Seva Dhaliwal prepares food packages for clients who visit the Kuu-us Crisis Line Society’s community outreach service on Saturdays. The mobile outreach van is often a stopgap for people who find themselves short on food on weekends.

Reaching out

The Kuu-us mobile program helps fill the gap in food distribution over the weekend with rotating Saturday locations.

Seva Dhaliwal spends her Saturdays thinking about others.

In the morning, she goes on her usual errands: picking up baked goods and donated food at Save-On Foods, Fairway Market, Quality Foods, Tyler’s No Frills (which also provides cases of drinking water) and Buy-Low Foods.

Afternoons are spent putting together food hampers at the Kuu-us Crisis Line Society’s building on Adelaide Street.

Just before 5 p.m. she and at least one more volunteer head out in the Kuu-us mobile outreach van to hand out food hampers.

The mobile outreach program helps those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, said Elia Nicholson-Nave, executive director at Kuu-us Crisis Line Society. “It’s a way of reducing financial barriers.”

The program has been filling gaps in service for weekend food distribution for the past nine years. Dhaliwal started out using her own vehicle but the Alberni Valley Community Foundation provided Kuu-us with a van a couple of years ago.

The weekend service sees anywhere from 20 to 55 clients, many people who come with their children, Nicholson-Nave said. “We get a wide range of individuals.”

They cover the entire Alberni Valley, with stops in Cherry Creek and Beaver Creek as well as throughout the city.

Donations for food come by way of the grocery stores as well as citizens putting food in the donation boxes at places like Quality Foods. The more food that is donated, the better the food that Dhaliwal and other volunteers are able to give clients, she says.

Hampers are supplemented with fresh produce contributed by people who have extra from their fruit trees or from various groups around town.

During the winter, the mobile outreach team goes indoors at the Echo Field House and Echo Centre, offering hot food and a place to socialize—something Dhaliwal feels is important. Dhaliwal started the process when she used to set up outside the former video store across from what is now the Coulson’s building on Third Avenue.

Dhaliwal wishes she could offer hot food year-round, as there has been a demand for it, but for now the program is given two or three months’ allowance inside city buildings during the coldest part of winter.

Dhaliwal is proud of how far the program has come, and what it offers to its clients. It started as an hour-long program at the video store, and has doubled to two hours’ distribution in parking lots around the city, on a two-week rotation (half the parking lots are served one week, the other half the next week).

People who use the service “are greeted like guests, not street people. They’re just people; we don’t want to give them labels,” she says. “We want to encourage people to stand on their own feet and socialize with them to encourage them.

“Now they behave like family members,” she says.

“Seva is a passionate and caring person, and her dedication to help us help others is proven in her years working with this project,” Nicholson-Nave said.

Just Posted

Vehicle catches fire near China Creek Marina

No injuries in blaze, according to witnesses

North Island College issues brief statement on bomb threat

Threat forced college to close all campuses for one day

Premier wades into fishery closure debate

John Horgan questions the federal government’s approach

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Horse riders resurrect public riding ring near Port Alberni

Open house planned for July 22 so public can check out Beaver Creek facility

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

VIDEO: Firefighters put out brush fire in Nanaimo

Fire broke out in the area of a new development under construction in East Wellington

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Most Read