MANITOULIN—The Noojmowin Teg Health Centre is welcoming a new Child Poverty Task Force Coordinator, Kristin Bickell of Little Current.
“The Child Poverty Task Force was started by a number of Island organizations who identified that a number of children on Manitoulin were not getting enough food,” explained Noojmowin Teg Executive Director Pam Williamson. “It was an issue of nutrition and that a number of children were not having a proper diet and that their diet consisted of a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables. Knowing that this was an economic issue, the group set out to change things for Manitoulin youth and began to look at how they would address this problem.”
Ms. Williamson said that the Child Poverty Task Force focused on promoting nutrition initially and began the Good Food Box program on the Island. The Good Food Box program offers families across Manitoulin with fresh produce, which is offset by the Grow a Row program.
“The group is now looking to promote locally grown food more through community and family gardens,” continued Ms. Williamson. “In the next few years we hope to see some big changes about awareness and how we can grow food collectively—starting a movement across the Island.”
Through a partnership with the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, Ms. Williamson said that the Child Poverty Task Force will be encouraging kids and family to eat healthily.
Ms. Bickell will be replacing Sue Rumble, who is stepping down from the position.
Ms. Bickell said that she is looking forward to her new role and is working with Ms. Rumble who is helping her transition into the new job.
“I am really excited about stepping into this role,” Ms. Bickell told The Expositor. “The goal of the Child Poverty Task Force is to address poverty across Manitoulin, which is something that I am very passionate about. I am also looking forward to making a difference and working with a great group.”
Ms. Bickell is familiar with the group having volunteered with the Grow a Row program coordinator this past summer. She has also served as the program coordinator with Manitoulin Northshore Victim Services.
Her background is in sociology with a minor in Canadian aboriginal studies at Carleton University.
Ms. Bickell started her new role earlier this week, meeting with the Child Poverty Task Force to discuss upcoming initiatives.
“One of the initiatives we are very excited about is partnering with Kids Can Grow for workshops at elementary schools across the Island,” shared Ms. Bickell.
The Child Poverty Nutrition Task Force is working to understand and address children’s nutrition and food-related health challenges in at-risk communities on Manitoulin Island. Collaboration between agencies and communities at monthly meetings and for other projects is raising awareness of effective work already happening, as well as discovering shared questions.