Free boxes of fresh produce can make all the difference for families with soaring costs

›› Chantille Viaud

For the first time ever, it is more expensive to live in Victoria than Vancouver.

This won’t come as a surprise to almost anyone who has been to a grocery store recently. Soaring food prices, combined with high inflation on other household costs, means a lot of families are struggling to make ends meet.

Now more than ever, people need access to healthy food. No one should have to worry about where their next meal will come from, or have to decide between paying rent or buying food.

People shouldn’t have to sacrifice nutrition because of cost, or feel shame because they can’t keep up with the soaring cost of everything.

This is why, every year, Fernwood NRG raises money for the Gift of Good Food. It’s a program that provides a year’s worth of fresh produce for families who need it, with no stigma attached. The fresh produce is available in a Good Food Box every other week. It provides a consistent source of meaningful support for the families who receive it and is something they can rely on for the year.

This kind of support can be life changing.

As financial pressures increase for families trying to make ends meet, they’re forced to make tough choices. For one family, the Gift of Good Food gave choice back.“The increased food costs this past year really impacted what I purchased for my family. The Gift of Good Food tremendously helped put healthy options back on our table.”

For another family, the impact was more stark: “​​It can make the difference between whether or not I get enough to eat or not. My kid always comes first, but it’s nice when there’s enough dinner for everyone.”

And we know how people access food is also very important. “Access to fresh food is priceless; not having to go to food banks makes a world of difference. They can be demoralizing.”

Last year we raised a record amount of money and were able to support families all over Greater Victoria. And we couldn’t have done this without support from you – our community.

This year we need that support even more.

The number of families who need help is at an all time high. We are able to stretch dollars further through bulk buying, sourcing local and in season, and having a committed volunteer base. But we need your support to make this all work.

Our goal this year is to raise $100,000, which will allow us to support more than 140 families with an entire year’s worth of fresh produce.

We work with 18 community partners to distribute the boxes to families. They support marginalized people, and the families most in need, in their communities. Our partners are community centres, other neighbourhood houses, transition houses, refugee service agencies, grassroots collectives, and the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. They identify people who most need the Gift of Good Food. And do this through the relationships they’ve established in their respective communities.

Each neighbourhood centre serves as a local pick-up location, and we offer delivery to those who need it. Both paying customers of the Good Food Box and recipients of the Gift of Good Food get the same high-quality, fresh produce from the same pick-up location. One of our core values is to provide dignified access to food — we don’t differentiate between our paying and non-paying customers. Everyone gets the same level of quality and service.

Most of us have felt the crunch with rising prices and have had to make some hard choices to balance our budgets. Some families’ choices are being reduced to ones they shouldn’t have to make: Food or rent? Milk or vegetables? Spend time with family or wait in a food bank line?

This year, please help us raise funds to support families to have one less worry, and donate to the Gift of Good Food.

Visit to donate online or drop by the Fernwood Community Centre to donate in person.