›› Chantille Viaud

Growing up, my family would give cans of food to our local food bank each year, and I assumed that this was normal. But then one year, friends from Sweden visited us for Christmas. I remember telling them, with pride, that we were gathering cans of food to give to the local food bank. “What’s a food bank?” they asked. I assumed it was a ‘lost in translation’ moment. After ­explaining, they still didn’t understand, and told us that such things didn’t exist in their country. They asked why our government didn’t instead give people enough money to be able to buy their own food so they didn’t have to rely on our left overs. I was stunned.

Since then I’ve come to realize we need to pressure our government to provide ­better income assistance to folks so they don’t need to wait in food bank lines. One of my mentors taught me to dream big: “A world without food banks is possible” he says.

We know that government’s not going to change things overnight, it’s going to take time. But, people still need food, and people especially need food now after 2 years of a pandemic.

One of the ways we’re trying to meet this need, to distribute fresh produce with dignity and free of stigma, is through our Good Food Box program. When we ­provide free boxes to families, no one knows which boxes are the ones that are for folks who have paid, or for folks who are receiving them for free. The packers treat all the boxes the same, and the produce they receive is the same as everyone else.

This is the reason why Fernwood NRG fundraises each year through our Gift of Good Food campaign. So that we can get as many boxes as possible into the hands of those who need it the most.

For $650, a family is provided a free box every other week for a year. I buy these boxes for my own family, and each time I bring home the box my kids help me unload and we talk about which veggies they like, which ones they promise they’ll try again, and which ones might be new to them.

My family started a team to fundraise this year because we know how much it means to have fresh quality food for families. And while we know that this is needed and necessary, I will continue to tell my kids that we need to fight for a world where food banks and food charity are no longer needed