President, Good Food Box Society North Okanagan
Can you imagine the challenge it was last month to fill over 700 good food boxes with fresh produce in the week all the major highways were closed?
With more than half of the ordered produce on the road stuck in transport, the Good Food Box organizers and volunteers reached out to local farmers, produce suppliers and the community. They went up and beyond to help supply fresh local produce for individuals and families in the North Okanagan on the third Thursday of the month. Thank you so much.
Okanagan Grown Produce and Okanagan Quality Wholesale were able to fill our orders for local produce for only half of our usual 10-12 items. We scrambled to connect with other local suppliers and were delighted with their response.
Davison Orchards provided and delivered 700 squash. Hoisington Farms provided 1,000 pounds of carrots which were fresh from their root cellars and had to be washed.
In addition to our regular large and small food boxes, we have a 60-plus program of 50 small boxes funded by the Social Planning and Research Council of BC. We add bread, eggs and an extra item for these boxes. When the bakery we order bread from didn’t have enough flour to fill our order, Cobbs Bakery stepped up and brought in extra help to get us the bread order we needed on time. Local egg suppliers got us the eggs we needed for these boxes and Sweet Haven Microgreens provided microgreens.
Dawson International Trucking firm donated a truck and employee’s time to pick up produce and deliver boxes.
The Good Food Box program is a volunteer run program that works like a cooperative, but only operates once a month, using local donated spaces. Our central location is the All Saints Anglican Church Hall in Vernon where we put together more than 700 boxes, pre-purchased by participants or sponsored by individuals, community agencies and charitable groups. Bulk produce goes out to the surrounding areas including Armstrong, Enderby, Lumby and the Okanagan Indian Band for distribution in boxes from there.
With many families facing food insecurity in our area, the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan sponsored 160 boxes per month starting in November 2020 for six months and has continued for more than a year now. As the need has continued for Vernon and area, so has their support. CFNO has sponsored more than 2,600 boxes this last year and is planning to continue helping in the coming few months, winter being more difficult months for families in need.
Families have written letters of deep appreciation for the help of receiving boxes of fresh produce once a month. The Community Foundation of the North Okanagan is able to receive donations and issue tax receipts. Please ask that the funds be directed to the Good Food Box program.
The Regional District committee chairpersons have recently donated funds to help people in more rural areas access the program over the next five months.
There are multiple people to thank for their generous donations to the Good Food Box program to sponsor families, there are too many names to recognize them individually. Families have raised funds and donated to help another family in need. Individuals and businesses have purchased gift certificates to give as Christmas gifts or anonymously sponsor boxes. We have these available for you to purchase. Please call Diane Fleming at 250-306-7800.
Another way to support the program and your family is to buy a sustainability box. People can purchase these for $25 for a large box. From the purchase, $5 goes to help cover the administration costs of gas, bags, sanitizer etc. When a number of people donate $5 it goes a long way to helping our program continue to provide this service without adding our overhead costs to the price of the boxes.
As produce prices have jumped and will continue rising over the next few months, you may want to consider buying a Good Food Box yourself. A large box costs $20 and provides more than $40 in value if purchased at a local retail grocery store. It is suitable for a family of 3-4 or an individual that likes to eat a lot of vegetables and fruit.
A small box costs $12 and is suited to 1-2 people. The box is prepaid a week before through an e-transfer or cash at a few locations and is prepared for pick up the third Thursday of the month. Delivery is available in the city for those who have limited mobility for an additional cost.
We are always looking for volunteers who enjoy a positive environment of community service; whether picking up produce in your truck, weighing produce, packing boxes, delivery of food boxes to schools or individuals with mobility issues, and of course set up and clean up. Programs are in Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby, Lumby/Cherryville and Okanagan Indian Band.
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