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North Okanagan Good Food Box continues to produce

Health food initiative for North Okanagan families and individuals supported well by community

The North Okanagan community knows what a good program the North Okanagan Good Food Box is.

More than half of the nearly 8,700 good food boxes prepared for families and individuals in the region over the past yeear have been sponsored by the community.

“The goal of the Good Food Box program is to help all families and individuals access healthy produce including those families that would not have been able to afford healthy produce due to financial issues,” said Donna Antonishak with the Good Food Box program. “Recently, many factors have affected food costs jumping over 10-15 per cent, including inflation, rising gas prices, higher production costs, up and above the reduced ability to earn wages for many families during the pandemic.

“Families must juggle their ability to pay rent, gas, food utilities and other household costs. Some have had to choose to eat less to pay for heat or rent and to miss out on higher-cost foods including produce.”

The Good Food Box is a monthly group produce buying program that puts together boxes of produce for families and individuals in the North Okanagan. People prepay for their box by the second Tuesday of the month and pick up their box on the third Thursday of the month.

This program is for everyone that wishes to benefit from group purchasing from local wholesalers and farmers, when produce is in season.

Boxes come in two sizes – $20 for a large box that will feed a family of three or four; or $12 for a small box that would feed one-to-two people.

Items in the June box included local potatoes, carrots, onions, B.C. broccoli crowns, B.C. spinach, local hot house tomatoes and a cucumber, local lettuce, bananas and local Ambrosia apples. When priced this month at a local retail grocery store, the $20 box would cost $51 for the same amount and variety of food.

Over this last year the Good Food Box program has saved the community $128,738.11.

The program has received funding from the Smart and Caring Fund of the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan to sponsor 3,200 boxes over the last year and a half. The Regional District of the North Okanagan sponsored 200 boxes per month over five months, aimed at helping families in more rural areas. The United Church, Kohler Limited and First Nations Family Resource Center have sponsored more than 100 pregnant women and young families over the past year.

The Social Planning and Research Council of BC has sponsored 400 small boxes for seniors and United Way, an additional 100 boxes.

Recently the Olive Us Oil and Vinegar Tasting Room donated $544 to sponsor boxes for families and seniors. Bailey Morin, BSc. In Food, Nutrition and Health, raised $112 in customer donations and $432 in Olive Us donations. As part of her UBC course in International Nutrition, this project was aimed to address hunger in the community by providing community members with fresh, healthy produce that they wouldn’t otherwise been able to access.

This comes at a great time as food prices are soaring and some major funding sources have ended.

“We are encouraging businesses to follow the example of Olive Us and consider donating to support hungry families,” said Antonishak.

This program will continue through to 2023 thanks to SPARC and the support of the Land to Table Network for 60 seniors.

“We want to thank all these sponsors, as well as the many groups such as the Armstrong Lions club and generous individuals that have donated funds,” said Antonishak. “Many of the program participants help by purchasing a sustaining box for $25 giving $5 to help the program.

“In addition, we wish to thank the distribution centres throughout the area for their ongoing support for free space. Thank you too, to the Kalamalka Rotary Dream Auction grant and the Community Foundation Smart and Caring grants to help our program update our operational process, plan for sustainability and research a new website.”

September brings increased budget needs for school supplies, clothes, as well as school lunches. Those wishing a tax receipt may donate to the Smart and Caring Fund of the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, asking for the funds to go to the Good Food Box program.

Another way to donate is to the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society (NOYFSS) who will issue a receipt and allocate the boxes to families in their care. You can also purchase a sustaining box for $25, giving $5 to help the program.

For more information visit goodfoodbox.net. To order a box e-transfer to goodfoodboxok@gmail.com providing your name, phone number, number and size of boxes and location of pickup.

Volunteers are always welcome for the volunteer-run program. To volunteer contact Dorothy Fowler at dorothyfowler222@hotmail.com.

For further questions, call Diane Fleming, program coordinator, at 250-306-7800.

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