Fernwood-based fundraiser supports families with fresh food for a year

›› Melissa Faye Reid

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to work with ­Fernwood NRG is because of Gift of Good Food annual holiday fundraiser. The aim of the fundraiser is to raise funds to ­support local families within the Greater ­Victoria community access fresh produce all year. At first, I wondered how this was ­possible, but now, in my second year of co-­coordinating this fundraiser, I realize it’s possible because of the support, kindness, and openheartedness of the community.

The Gift of Good Food started six years ago as a way to directly support local families in-need who may be struggling to put food on the table for their loved ones. Families that are selected as ­recipients receive a Good Food Box every two weeks which is filled with fresh, healthy, fruits and vegetables. This year, our goal is to raise $100,000 to support 200 families in-need to receive the Gift of Good Food.

The Gift of Good Food partners with 15 community centres, transition houses, and local First Nations to select families to receive the Gift of Good Food. The ­community partners support and work with individuals in the communities they serve. They have a first-hand connection with those who may be struggling, need support, and access to food security.

The partners span across the Capital Regional District, from Sooke to Saanich, and include Bridges for Women Society, Burnside Gorge Community Association, Esquimalt Nation, Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society, Fernwood NRG, Fairfield Gonzales Community Association, James Bay Community Project, Oaklands Community Association, Quadra Village Community Centre, Saanich Neighbourhood Place, Songhees Nation, Sooke Family Resource Society, Victoria Native Friendship Centre, Vic West Community Association, and Island Health.

This year, in 2020, I believe will live in our memories for the rest of our days. I often imagine myself as an old grandmother with one of my grandchildren inquiring about life before the global ­pandemic. Seems a little silly, and maybe it is, but I can’t help but wonder about the lasting impacts COVID-19 will have on all our lives. Currently, at the neighbourhood level, I have seen increased food insecurity, social isolation, and financial instability. I feel so grateful that I work on the Gift of Good Food fundraiser and in some small way, can lighten the proverbial load of a few families.

Many families, before the global ­pandemic, were facing food insecurity and now it has become exacerbated. A ­recipient of the Gift of Good Food this year said, “I could not have gotten by ­without it. I felt cared about. Since the CERB ended, it has been crucial.” One thing 2020 Gift of Good Food recipients could count on was receiving a Good Food Box every two weeks during global instability.

One of the many differences of the Gift of Good Food in comparison to other holiday hampers is the continuity of food support. Rather than receiving a one-time food hamper during the holiday season, recipients receive food for all of next year. Also, families who receive the Gift of Good Food will pick up their food with all other Good Food Box customers. In this way we help minimize stigma by not singling out recipients who are picking up at ­community partner’s locations. This also increases food access for recipients who can pick up at a location close to home.

Another 2020 Gift of Good Food ­recipient said, “You make the difference between someone feeling shame and ­isolation to feeling understood and supported.”

To those who have donated to the Gift of Good Food fundraiser in the past, I have nothing but gratitude for you. You have directly aided in putting a warm bowl of homemade soup on a families table, a crunchy apple for a child to enjoy, or the security of a recipient knowing food will be waiting for them to pick up every two weeks.

The Gift of Good Food fundraiser has big goals to reach in a short amount of time. The fundraiser started on ­November 16th and runs until midnight on ­December 31st, 2020. Donations are accepted online at thegiftofgoodfood.­ca/donate. We need your help to support even more families in 2021 as we enter another year of uncertainty. Though, of one thing I am certain is the lasting impact ­kindness, openheartedness, and support has on people.

“The impact the Gift of Good Food program has had in my life is the sense of community. Every time I pick it up, I feel so grateful. Reminds me that there are so many loving and caring people.”