“I think the Good Food Box program would benefit everyone, not just us,” says Angela Robertson, resident and member of Work in Progress (WIP).
“The idea of doing this is not only to promote nutrition and health, but also to get our special needs youth and adults out into the community and joining in,” she says.
WIP started as a casual support group for families of children with special needs, about four years ago. The group has started to gain momentum offering new activities and initiatives to help special needs people get out in the community, learn life skills and meet new friends.
The Good Food Box initiative was created to promote healthy living and strong communities, and to provide an opportunity for special needs adults and youth to be involved in a community project. The program being developed here in Tumbler, spearheaded by Robertson will be using a similar model to the Good Food Box being done in Dawson Creek.
“The goal of the good food box is getting good fruits and vegetables at close to cost. So people aren’t spending a lot of money to get good nutritional food. We have put the boxes at $20. It would be about three bags of fruits and vegetables mixed,” Robertson explains.
The bags would include staples such as apples, oranges, bananas, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, etc. and then one exotic item like melons or zucchinis’ once a week, along with a recipe or a ‘how to prepare’.
WIP began reaching out to find where to get the fruits and vegetables, and where to organize and distribute.
Robertson explains how Shop Easy became the source, “When we spoke with Darryl, he came right on board and was able to match the prices Dawson Creek was getting through another distributor. He was happily willing to bring orders in once a week. He has also offered space in order to distribute and organize. We are glad to have him on board. He will let us know also what is coming on sale and help us to get the best quality items.”
WIP has applied for a grant through the United Way to pay for a Good Food Box coordinator who would do up the client orders, write receipts and handle the banking and ordering of food. Then, the special needs adults would come in and help sort and distribute the boxes one day a week, and receive an honorarium for their work.
Robertson says, “Also, we will approach TRSS to have the special needs students come over to earn volunteer credits; they would come over with the Teaching Assistants’ for an hour and help with the sorting and distribution, depending on their capacity. There would be something they would each be capable of doing and feeling like they are contributing.”
WIPs biggest hurdle in getting the Good Food Box going is they are not a charitable organization and don’t have a charity number. Robertson says, “We are looking at partnering up with other groups with similar goals in town that have charitable status.”
The decision on when this pilot project will get started is based on the approval of the United Way grant. Robertson says, “A lot has to do with the grant. If we don’t get this grant from United Way, we do have other options, but I think we would try to work in some other things to get it going. I felt good about the meeting with the United Way. They thought it was a really good idea and program. Their biggest issue was with the sustainability. Use the grant to pay for the coordinator this year, but what about next year?
Robertson explained there are a lot of programs that only run by grants. She says, “If they don’t get it, they try again next year. This is our pilot project. We are going to try for a year and if it’s successful, then we will approach local industry, corporate sponsors and organizations to jump on board. In the scheme of things, Darryl is offering space and fruits and vegetables at cost, so really it is the cost of the coordinator to teach these youths and adults how to manage something like this. One of our young ladies wants to do the coordinators job so we said to her, ‘the first year she can be mentored by the coordinator and maybe eventually move into the position of coordinator herself.
WIP and the Good Food Box are also willing to accommodate community members with mobility issues. Robertson said, “If someone doesn’t have a car we would certainly try to accommodate. I’m sure we could work something out to bring on someone who could deliver the fruits and veg.”
This initiative is only one example of the projects underway with WIP.
“We have lots of ideas that we would like to go ahead with. The big thing is creating opportunities for people to learn and increase their life skills. There are so many things that could come of this. I think this is just the starting point.”
The Good Food Box has a tentative start date in July. Look out for flyers and signup lists around town!