The Good Food Boxes program has been brought to the West End by the Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association and the Winnipeg Foodshare Co-op.
The program is basically a buying club, with the non-profit groups involved raising funds to hire a co-ordinator who orders the food from wholesale distributors.
"There is very little markup on it," explained Robynn Webb, DMSMCA’s greening and environment co-ordinator.
"For instance, a family of five Good Food Box costs $20, and the value of the food you get in it (if you were to buy it at Superstore or such) would be more like $30."
The boxes come in three sizes — individual ($8), small ($15, enough for two adults), and family ($20, enough for a family of four-six). They can be picked up at the DMSMCA office at 823 Ellice Ave. The twice-a-month offerings have been available since October.
Good Food Boxes are made up of a mix of fruit and vegetables, including fresh staples such as potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, bananas, apples and oranges.
"We stay away from things that would be more expensive and less common," Webb said. "We try to ensure the boxes have a good variety of staple ingredients.
"People need to pay for their box by the Friday prior to pickup (twice a month, on Wednesdays). Some people, when they come on the Wednesday to pick up their box, they pay for the next one."
The idea of bringing Good Food Boxes to the neighbourhood was first discussed a few years ago following the introduction of the Good Food Club in the West Broadway area. A number of neighbourhoods opted to work together, which led to the formation of the Winnipeg Food Share Co-op. The co-op now operates in neighbourhoods and schools across the city.
"A lot of the neighbourhoods that our organizations work in don’t have very good access to healthy food," Webb said. "Many corner stores’ foods are sub-optimal in price and freshness. And if you don’t have access to transportation, it can be challenging to get to a grocery store to buy more affordable, healthier items."
In its first neighbourhood run, Webb said there were 200 Good Food Boxes, with a projection of 400 for the next one. The ultimate goal for the first year of operation is 1,000 boxes.
"Winnipeg Harvest has been letting us use some of their empty space to pack boxes at their site on Winnipeg Avenue," Webb said. "We’re looking for volunteer box packers, and volunteers get one box for free.
"If someone doesn’t see a depot in their area, they can get one set one up with just a minimum of 10 boxes."
To volunteer in the neighbourhood, call Webb at 204-774-7005 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.winnipegfoodsharecoop.org.
Rebeca Kuropatwa is a West End-based writer.
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