Dartmouth North community centres to unite family, food under one roof | The Star

HALIFAX—After 25 years of service, a Dartmouth North community hub is joining family and food together, thanks to new funding from the provincial government.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil stopped by the Dartmouth Community Food Centre on Tuesday to announce $100,000 in government funding to help unite the space with its parent organization, the Dartmouth Family Centre in the One Roof project.

With the new funds, the family centre will move from its old Albro Lake Road location into a new, fully accessible space connected to the food centre’s Primrose Street address.

“Both the food and family centre are really hubs of the community, but it’s a barrier for people to have to go to both sites,” the centre’s executive director, Wendy Fraser, said after the funding announcement.

Diana Franklin, a single mother of two living in Dartmouth North, knows exactly how valuable the centre’s expansion will be for the community. For many years, she leaned on the centre’s support to help care for her toddler, teenager and grandmother as a single parent.

When her grandmother passed away and her family was forced into homelessness, Franklin said it was the centre that supported them and carried them through their loss and grief.

“I had a rock,” Franklin told the room on Tuesday. “I had the family centre, so I had a whole family behind me. I had so much support, so many kind words. … I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”

Franklin said she and her three-year-old son Dezmond attended playgroups at the family centre, ate meals at the food centre and received relentless support from one of the centre’s Parenting Journey Home Visitors, who would come by regularly with resources and help for the entire family.

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“I feel my family really shows what the two centres and two sites have offered,” Franklin said.

“We really took full advantage of everything they had to offer, and it showed … the support we had behind us.”

Fraser said the government’s investment, which will come in equal parts from the Departments of Community Services and Communities, Culture and Heritage, will give the centre an opportunity to make its programming even more accessible and impactful for Dartmouth North.

“The idea of this level of collaboration, for me, is long overdue,” McNeil said during the announcement.

“I think what you’re doing here will actually be able to be used across the province in communities that will allow us to make sure that we invest in communities, invest in people, invest in infrastructure.”

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Last year, the food centre served 27,000 meals and harvested more than 3,000 pounds of produce from the community garden, while the family centre provided programming focused on prenatal support, early parenting support and child development, Fraser said.

“This way, we’re going to be able to bring it together, we’ll be accessible and we can really increase intergenerational programming, which is really the core of what we do,” she added.

“It’s about community coming together, reducing social isolation, getting food and skills and connection.”

Fraser said many of the centre’s staff and volunteer crew were once participants in the centre’s programming, adding to the sense of community at the centre.

As Franklin and her two sons have begun rebuilding their lives, she is joining those ranks by volunteering in the child development program, taking part in community action training and contributing to conversations around the centre’s expansion project.

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“I was so happy that we were included in the One Roof project … that shows us that we have a voice, and not only that we have a voice, but we have a voice that’s being heard,” said Franklin.

“I’m excited that the two sites are becoming one. It’s just going to offer more supports for the community — for toddlers, teenagers, seniors and people like me.”

The expansion is set to break ground in November, Fraser said, and staff are looking forward to hosting their grand reopening by next summer.

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Julia-Simone Rutgers is a Halifax-based journalist and a freelance contributor for Star Halifax. Follow her on Twitter: @jsrutgers

This content was originally published here.

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