A box of squash zips down a ramp. An ice cream pail full of apples is weighed. Two men wheel a cart around and put cucumbers in boxes.
It is the third Thursday of the month and laughter can be heard throughout the hall as a volunteers put together Good Food Boxes.
This is a community of volunteers who have been together for a long time, enjoy each other’s company and efforts and put in time to make fresh fruit and produce available to others at a reasonable price.
The fresh fruit and vegetable co-operative has been active since 2002, with participants picking up between $18 to $22 worth of produce for just $12 each month.
It is a program that provides as much locally grown food as possible, something that depends on the area’s growing season. A monthly newsletter keeps participants up-to-date on the group and includes recipes and food tips.
Joyce Henderson, current program co-ordinator along with Marcia Beckner, says if an item is not available locally, the next preference is B.C.
If something is available in the province but costs a bit more than a U.S. grown item, the B.C. option is favoured. But, if there is a big discrepancy, the cheaper U.S.-grown item will end up in the Good Food boxes in order to keep prices down.
“It is a provincewide program set up around sustainability,” says Henderson. “It’s on the third Thursday because people are often getting low in funds.”
But Henderson points out the program is not specific to low-income earners but a true co-operative.
Henderson has high praise for the 20 current volunteers who operate in morning and afternoon shifts on Good Food Box day, along with Brad Shields, Kameron Kriese and Jesse Beardmore, who put tables and chairs back in place at the end of the day.
Big credit also goes to St. Joseph’s Church that rents the hall fore $25 for an eight-hour day and allows Good Food Box organizers to store their boxes.
Henderson waxes poetical about DeMille’s, Pedro’s and Peterson Orchards for selling the group items just above cost. And every year Rancho Vignola donates some $3,500 worth of dried fruit and nuts, so every December box will get a bag of one or the other.
“They are all so supportive,” she says of the suppliers. “DeMille’s gave us five extra boxes of cabbages this week at no cost because we were short – so generous.”
Henderson says new volunteers are always welcome to join the current 20, who take food with them on food box day and enjoy lunch and, more importantly, camaraderie.
To order a box, simply go to the Family Resource Centre or Seniors’ Resource Centre by the second Wednesday of the month. Pick-up is the third Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. in the lower hall at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church. Take your own grocery bags.
For more information about the program, call Joyce Henderson at 250-832-4127, or Marcia Beckner at 250-832-3534.