The Good Food Box North Okanagan is hoping to feed 150 families per month for all of 2024 with its school food program.
President of the organization Donna Antonishak says schools have been reaching out to her directly.
“We have a number of schools that serve populations in Vernon that are lower income or more at risk for having food insecurity,” said Antonishak “And the schools are actually reaching out to us, they've said they have hungry families.”
During the pandemic Good Food Box received emergency funding to support families struggling with food insecurity. That funding finished over the summer and now that fall and winter are underway schools are asking for 10 to 12 boxes a month to feed families.
Antonishak says it’s a project happening with SilverStar to provide fresh produce to those families. SilverStar’s Christmas Light Up served as the kick off event and raised $5,000 in one night.
The organization is trying to raise a total of $38,000. Antonishak says it’s also partnered with Community Foundation to provide tax receipts for people wanting to donate, visit the foundations website for donation instructions.
Both SilverStar Play Foundation and Community Foundation have promised to match donations up to $10,000 each.
Antonishak is a retired nutritionist and says Good Food Box was started because community members weren’t able to afford healthy produce.
“The concern is, though, when we're not having a healthy diet it impacts our health. Particularly for growing families (and) growing children,” said Antonishak.
“It impacts their well being, not only their brain health and their physical health, but the stress on the family as well. And children arriving hungry to school won't have the concentration and sense of well being that they need to do well.”
The Good Food Box delivers fresh produce monthly to the community at lower prices than the supermarkets. A family sized box costs $20 but is valued at between $40-45. Antonishak says the groups treasurer tracked the cost versus value of boxes last year and the group saved the community $212,000.
Antonishak thanked the many volunteers throughout the North Okanagan who help make the box possible, saying there’s about 75 volunteers. She says the program would not run without the volunteers.