UPDATE: VIHA negotiating with Alberni agency to provide fresh veggies

VIHA is negotiating a contract with an Alberni agency to provide a fresh food program to clients of the Integrated Health Network.

Salvation Army Major Bruce MacKenzie stacks cans of vegetables at the food bank on a Wednesday morning. The Vancouver Island Health Authority is negotiating a contract with a local agency to provide fresh vegetables to Integrated Health Network clients

A step forward has been taken to consistently provide fresh vegetables to some people who depend on food hampers from the community food bank, the Vancouver Island Health Authority said.

According to VIHA spokesperson Shannon Marshall, the health authority is presently negotiating a contract with a Port Alberni organization to provide a fresh food program to clients of the Integrated Health Network.

The IHN is a branch of VIHA. IHN employs a registered nurse, two dietitians and a social worker that work with chronic illness clients of Valley doctors, patients and several support services.

As negotiations aren’t finalized Marshall declined to name the organization they are in talks with with. She did however give some insight into how the program will work.

“Once implemented, will have a strong (interactive) education component; how to introduce fresh foods into your diet and how to cook using fresh foods,” Marshall said.

VIHA hopes to get the program off the ground in mid-March, she added.

The development would be good news to the Port Alberni branch of the Salvation Army, which operates the community food bank.

The food bank, which has many clients in common with the IHN, is trying to find a way to start providing fresh produce consistently to its clients, Salvation Army Major Bruce MacKenzie said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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