Kathryn Juricic of Fernwood NRG says so many other food drive programs this time of year focus on non-perishable items, so The Gift of Good Good focuses on providing fresh produce. Photo courtesy of Fernwood NRG

Victoria’s Gift of Good Food program, a holiday offering for the whole year

Fernwood NRG aims to raise $75,000 to provide fresh produce for families in need

Around this time each year, the phrase “non-perishable food item” can seem like it’s everywhere. Food banks, donation drives and countless others reach out to the community in an effort to help those less fortunate whose need for basic necessities is greater during the holidays.

For three years, the Fernwood Neighbourhood Resource Group has taken that notion and put its unique stamp on it with The Gift of Good Food program, raising funds during the holiday season in order to provide healthy, fresh produce to families year round.

The program works with community partners from Sooke to Saanich to provide “The Good Food Box” to selected families facing poverty every two weeks. The cost to support a family for a year is $500, says Kathryn Juricic, program co-ordinator. That provides 12 to 15 items of fresh produce per box, coming from partners like Michell Bros. Farm and The Root Cellar.

“One in seven families or households are food insecure,” Juricic says. “I think the need is largely invisible. People aren’t necessarily sharing with everyone that they can’t feed their children a proper meal or that they’re having canned food all the time.”

This year, the program aims to raise $75,000, which would mean supporting 150 families throughout 2018.

“It’s created to be a food access program so it’s the most affordable food box program in the city,” Juricic explains. “The more money we raise and the more boxes we have every week, the more that is going to be inside the box.”

The families receiving The Gift of Good Food are chosen by the 15 community centres and organizations that are participating in the fundraiser. “They know these people and they know their families and they know they need it,” Juricic says, pointing out the contents of the food boxes are a good supplement to other food hamper programs.

“When you hear stories of kids that not only learn about fruits and vegetables, but get excited about them and how to make them and are eating them consistently through the whole year, that’s the best,” she says. “We’ve had stories of weight loss and confidence boosting, they do better in school and they have more friends.”

To donate to the program, visit thegoodfoodbox.ca/donate where the campaign will run until Dec. 31 at midnight. The website also contains information on other ways to offer your support.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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