The pandemic has required charities to respond to new and increased needs in all our communities.
With United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island’s help via the federal government’s Emergency Community Support Fund, Greenways Land Trust has stepped up in Campbell River, Gold River, Tahsis, Zeballos and Sayward.
Though Greenways’ usual focus is in protecting natural areas and supporting food security through growing and gardening, the organization responded to the increased need for affordable fruits and vegetables in the Northern Island.
Through their Strathcona Good Food Box program, Greenways Land Trust has distributed more than 12 tons of produce into the five communities it supports.
The program works by first ordering fruits and veggies in bulk to lower costs. Then, community coordinators and volunteers gather in each of the communities to fulfill box orders. This way, grocery prices are lowered by 30 to 50 per cent compared to city grocery store pricing.
Those who can afford it can purchase a full-priced food box, while those in need can have the price subsidized. The purchase price of boxes are also donated, providing those in most need with free produce.
“Our project goal at the beginning was only 575 boxes, so we’ve I think surpassed that by more than 200 per cent, so it feels really good to see,” says Katharine Lavoie who coordinates the food box program at Greenways.
“The funds to find people and get training done, the subsidizing for everybody has been really wonderful. I think more than half of our boxes are subsidized now, so that’s all thanks to the United Way funding.”
While visiting a food box packing day in Campbell River, UWCNVI got to speak with Chris Pearson, a local senior who uses the program.
“The cost of living is going up, more so now with COVID, and our pensions aren’t, so it’s a huge, huge help,” he said. “You go in the stores now and you can’t believe how much romaine lettuce is, or fresh fruit. [This program] is really beneficial.”
To all those that make this project happen, Chris had this to say:
“I’m not a religious guy, but god bless you and thank you for what you do. It’s very nice that you have compassion people like this … I would say, thank you so much, and much more.”