Stories from the Gift of Good Food program and how it has impacted local families

›› Mila Czemerys

“I’m a single dad with a 13-year-old boy. Receiving the Gift of Good Food every two weeks for my son and myself has been amazing! The cost of food these days—and produce—I see it going up all the time. My son does not actually eat meat or junk food; he loves vegetables. [This program] has really helped us for his lunches and our meals. I’m a single parent so everything is more [expensive]. We live on one income so it has really impacted us in a healthy way and financially. People have to eat healthy and a lot of people don’t eat healthy in this town because they can’t afford it. I see other organizations providing vegetables but it’s all expired from the stores. It may be a bit healthy but it’s not fresh. This program here is fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables. It’s definitely well needed for especially low-income families and people that ­struggle financially.” This father was selected to receive the Gift of Good Food. He and his son have been receiving fresh produce every two weeks for this past year. He is still receiving food today.

He shared how this gift goes beyond just his family, “I share the [Good Food Box] with one of my neighbours. She has a little boy and she’s a single mom. My son doesn’t eat all vegetables and I’m not a big vegetable person. It’s quite a lot for the two for us. I tend to split it in half and what my son and I don’t eat, I give to my neighbour. If it’s a lot of vegetables, like a bag of carrots for example, I will keep some for my son and hand some off to her as well. I think sharing is pretty cool!”

The impact of this program is sometimes hard to put to words. It provides relief to local families who may not know how they will be able to provide the next meal for their children. It shows families ­facing struggles that there are people in their community who care. It connects families with their closest neighbourhood house or community centre which in turn connects them to other support services at these organizations. It provides healthy, fresh food all year long instead just once during the holidays. This recipient summed it up, “Healthy food is the very foundation for a good life. This program makes a huge ­difference and is truly appreciated.”

Shonna Bell, the Family Programs Coordinator at the Fernwood ­Community ­Centre, knows how important this ­program is for the families she works with. “There are families that need this support. People are already emailing us asking how they can be a part of the program and ­expressing their need.” This program ­provides a food security resource for so many families across the region.

A mom receiving the Gift of Good Food, told this story, “My eldest daughter has started showing interest in cooking. She enjoys seeing what’s in the bag each time and coming up with a meal of her own. This program allows me and my girls to have fresh produce at times when I can’t afford them.”

Another parent shared, “We look ­forward to the Good Food Box. When I bring the box into the house, my ­daughter and I are curious about what we will find. My daughter will help with putting the ­goodies away while clinging to her favourite orange or pear. That is the great joy of my ­daughter.”

The Gift of Good Food fundraiser—which is currently underway—is aiming to raise $100,000 and support 200 families with fresh fruit and vegetables. All funds raised go directly towards supporting ­families in need across Greater Victoria. Please consider ­donating; you can donate online or in person at the ­Fernwood Community Centre at 1240 Gladstone Avenue. A donation of $20 provides one Good Food Box for a family. A donation of $500 supports a family for a whole year. This fundraising campaign runs until ­December 31st, 2019.

There are also lots of other ways to ­support! Check out our website for events and promotions at local businesses. You can sign up to start a fundraising team or ­volunteer to help with the campaign. Want to learn more? Visit thegiftofgoodfood.­ca/donate.

Our deepest thanks to everyone who has already donated, shared this ­fundraiser, volunteered, donated auction items, hosted an event, formed a fundraising team, ­supported through your business, and to all of our partners. This program would not be possible without you!

Gratitude from one of our current ­recipients says it all, “The impact this ­program has on my life is immeasurable. It is a true blessing to know that my young family and I can eat healthy, fresh food and that people care enough to make this program possible.”