The Good Food Box is filling hundreds of bags with fresh fruit and vegetables every week

›› Ruben Anderson

For over a decade, Fernwood’s ­bulk-buying produce bag has been packed by a very dedicated team of volunteers, and distributed by community centres or delivered to homes around our neighbourhood and region by volunteer drivers.

And now the Good Food Box’s service is more essential than ever.

The Fernwood Community Centre closed down in early March with other City-owned buildings, but the need to help people who were self-isolating was very clear. Figuring out how to safely operate in the new paradigm was very difficult, but we started packing produce again on the first of April and have been feeding more and more people every week. The staff of Fernwood NRG has also secured funding for Rapid Relief bags and is now ­accepting applications—we are packing so many ­vegetables we have added a second packing day—we are at about 600 bags every week, and still growing.

• 180 families are supported by the Gift of Good Food in 2020

• With funding from Community Food Centres Canada, we are now packing 77 bags of produce, plus fresh bread and local eggs for the next two months. These bags are being distributed through community centres.

• With funding from Victoria Foundation Rapid Relief Fund, we are packing 200 bags for 18 weeks. These bags will be picked up in person at the Fernwood ­Community Centre, or distributed by ­volunteers to folks who cannot get out.

Apply for the Good Food Box Rapid Relief program at­GoodFoodBoxRR.

These much-needed bags are also ­supported by customers—people all over the city who buy the Good Food Box, which helps increase our buying power.

And this pandemic has clearly shown how fragile our local food system is—another thing the Good Food Box aims to help change. Averaged over the year, about half the produce we buy is local or regional.

Spring is the lean season on local farms—seeds are in the ground, but the plants have not yet matured. Soon we will have new crops from Michells Farm in addition to their overwintered leeks and storage beets. We have been buying hyperlocal mixed greens from Mason Street City Farm and rotating them through our bags so hopefully everyone will get to enjoy the incredible flavour every few weeks. We sourced bread from Bond Bond’s Bakery and free run eggs from Farmer Ben.

If you would like to donate to help get food to folks who have been impacted by illness, job loss, or isolation, please go to and click on the ‘Donate’ tab. All donations $20 and above receive a charitable donation receipt.

If you would like to order a bag of ­produce for yourself or a friend, please click on the ‘Order’ tab. The deadline for ­ordering is Saturday at midnight (new deadline!) for the following Wednesday.

Home delivery is available south of McKenzie and east of Admirals for only $3.

And if you would like to be in the ­volunteer pool for packing, handing out, or delivering Good Food Boxes, please email We are not sure how many volunteers we will need to fulfill the Rapid Relief bags—and the ­situation is changing so quickly it is great to have more people. Our ideal volunteer is passionate about food, under 55 years old, very healthy, and able to make a weekly commitment on Tuesday or Wednesday.