LOCAL FLAVOUR: The Gift of Good Food for the holidays

LOCAL FLAVOUR: The Gift of Good Food for the holidays

By Linda Geggie

For the Saanich News

Tired of roaming the mall last-minute for the perfect gift for your honey? Got enough “stuff” accumulating in your home? What about giving something meaningful that keeps on giving all year round this holiday?

Fernwood NRG offers a Good Food Box program where families can purchase a biweekly box of fresh fruits and vegetables at over 15 locations in neighbourhoods across Greater Victoria. Part of this program, The Gift of Good Food, includes the ability to sponsor boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables to provide assistance to families who can really use extra support.

The Gift of Good Food program sees the Fernwood NRG partner with community centres, neighbourhood houses and transition houses. Contributions to the program allow support workers at the 15 partner locations to select families in need to receive fresh fruit and vegetable boxes year round.

Now in its third year, the program is making a difference in people’s lives. “The Gift of Good Food has helped us during some very difficult times. It has allowed us to make our meals as healthy as possible. It has shown our family that there are people in the community who care” explains a recipient.

“I think this need is largely invisible,” says Shonna Bell, family programs co-ordinator at the Fernwood Community Centre. “Parents aren’t necessarily sharing with everyone that they can’t afford to feed their children a proper meal or that they’re eating canned food all the time.”

The need for access to consistent, fresh produce does not exist only during the holidays but all year. The Gift of Good Food aims to help fill this need.

Other program recipients talk about how the program has contributed to improving their health. Susan shares that: “It has totally transformed our diet. I look forward to learning how to prepare vegetables I normally couldn’t afford.”

We know that over 50,000 people in our region need to access emergency food. One in six of these people are children. We also know that access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a major indicator of health. Eating a healthy diet improves our ability to concentrate and do well in school or at work. I believe that while we work to increase the conditions that make food more affordable in our community (such as affordable housing and employment opportunities) we need to do better at creating opportunities to access good food. Not only are largely preventable diet-related chronic diseases costing all of us over $10 billion a year in Canada, it is just the right thing to do. We can also move away from support systems that see people lining up for food at the food banks. Many in the emergency food providing community are doing a great job at making these changes. The Gift of Good Food Program is one example of this shift.

There is a real desire to support families augment their diets in a way that is dignified and promotes social connections and wellbeing.

The Good Food Box program is open to all people in the community and pick up days brings everyone in the door of the centres. There is no distinguishing the Gift of Good Food Box recipients and the Good Food Box customers, so picking up a box alongside others in the community is non-stigmatizing.

“On top of having fresh fruits and veggies to eat, we pick up our veggies from our local community centre and that has enhanced our child’s connection to her community” shares another Gift of Good Food Box recipient. “We are very grateful for this most generous and needed gift. Our gratitude grows deeper every two weeks.”

One of last year’s recipients further explains how he sees the multiple benefits of the program, it is “providing access to healthy food, increasing food literacy, strengthening connections to community, and learning about the importance of giving, to name a few.”

Mila Czemerys, one of the program fundraisers, let me know that so far this year they are 15 per cent of the way to their goal of raising $75,000. She wanted to give a huge thank you to everyone who has already contributed. “Our goal is to support 150 families in 2018. This doesn’t solve the problem but it’s a start.”

A donation of $500 buys a biweekly box year round for a family; you can either sponsor a box or give what you can. So if you are thinking of your loved ones this holiday and feel that they would appreciate this meaningful way to support others in the community, please donate what you can. Every contribution makes a difference. Donate at thegiftofgoodfood.ca/donate.

Amid the holiday hustle please remember to enjoy the season, and know it can also be hard for many as they remember family and friends, or struggle to make all the ends meet. Be good to each other. Wishing you the best of the holidays and looking forward to more Local Flavour in 2018.

Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at lgeggie@cfair.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police escorts for Victoria bylaw workers entering encampments in parks will continue for this month, after council approved a $25,000 budget request from VicPD. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria bylaw staff encampment work to include police escort through April

Taxpayers to see modest increase in property taxes for 2021

This property, at 1980 Fairfield Place, is adjoined to Gonzales Hill Park and is the centre of community opposition and a B.C. Supreme Court case as owners are looking to build a single-family home on the lot. Jake Romphf/News Staff
Home construction near Victoria’s Gonzales Hill Park spurs legal battle

Gonzales Hill Preservation Society worried about impacts to the park’s wildlife, rare fauna, views

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

Victoria’s bylaw restricting businesses from providing most plastic checkout bags came into effect on April 15. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Victoria’s bylaw banning plastic bags back in effect

The bylaw restricts businesses from providing most plastic checkout bags, charges for alternatives

Pacific Institution in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media file photo)
Inmate with ties to Victoria dies in Abbotsford institution

Brodie Bingley, who was sentenced for aggravated assault in Maple Ridge died April 13

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

The District of Sooke will continue to flower with Communities in Bloom. (Pixabay)
Sooke will bud but not bloom in provincial competition

Council scales back participation in Communities in Bloom

An armed officer walks outside Cerwydden Care on Cowichan Lake Road near Skinner Road Wednesday, April 14 around 5:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Police standoff at Duncan apartment ends peacefully

Officers surround building as homeowner held in apartment for nearly four hours by adult son

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour Pacific Rim highway closures planned in the next 6 weeks

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

Bulldogs forward Stephen Castagna flips the puck into the Clippers zone during a game on Oct. 24. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Island BCHL game postponed due to ‘potential positive’ COVID-19 test

Nanaimo Clippers team suspends activities, players isolating pending further test results

Most Read