City Watchdog – Embracing difference is so worthwhile

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the non-profit world. A missed grant can cause some of the best ideas to disappear.

There is a great deal of uncertainty in the non-profit world. A missed grant, a shift in the political climate, even a rent increase can cause some of the best ideas to simply disappear into the background. The history of the Good Food Box Program is no happy accident. The Capital has recognized a need to support local agriculture and healthy living through this project.

The Good Food Box program was founded 13 years ago on the simple principle that everyone — not just the rich — should be able to afford local, healthy, organic food. Although it now has a handful of part-time staff, the program has remained almost entirely volunteer-run and held true to its goal of providing affordable, socially conscious food for well over a decade.

Recently, the Good Food Box program has been looking to settle down. “Before it was always being run in that crisis mode that non-profits often are,” says Executive Director Sushil Saini. Seeking a more sustainable way of life, two years ago Saini and the Good Food folks left grant funding behind and embraced a new model of social enterprise. Despite a few close calls, the program gained the support of community funders and local non-profit heavies and today is well on its way to independence.

Not content to just keep things running, the Good Food Box program has continued to expand. The list of new and future projects — from workshops for kids and parents, to increasing food box delivery from monthly to biweekly — runs longer than seems possible for such a small organization, something Saini credits to the program’s ever-growing number of clients and strong connection to local farmers.

Now serving 450 families, schools, and community groups across the southern Island, the Good Food Box program still manages to bring it all back to the idea that started it all. “Once [food is] commodified,” says Saini, “its value goes from being a life-sustaining, life-saving item to a dollar value.”

Just like every other earnestly civic-minded project, the Good Food Box could have failed a dozen times over, only it didn’t. So when you go to pick up your food box next month, remember: this is what happens when our community finally decides to embrace something different. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Blue Bridge Theatre
Stratford star teams up with Blue Bridge Theatre

A New Take on a Perennial Favourite

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Vancouver Island actress finds success in a virtual world

Black Creek’s Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s Playbill Dining Room reopened to host small musical performances. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Theatre receives Island Coastal Economic Trust funding

Project will involve recording and live-streaming Playbill Presents series content

Nanaimo ballerina Jillian Vanstone is giving a hometown performance at the Port Theatre on Dec. 12. (Photo courtesy Karolina Kuras)
National Ballet of Canada principal dancer’s hometown return postponed

Nanaimo’s Jillian Vanstone will celebrate favourite choreographer at the Port Theatre at a later date

Stephen Laidlaw, prepator with Nanaimo Art Gallery, hangs a photograph of Anna Wong, a B.C. print maker whose works are on display at the gallery. The exhibit opens Friday, Dec. 4, and runs until Feb. 7. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores life work of overlooked B.C. printmaker

‘Anna Wong: Traveller on Two Roads’ features more than 70 art works and personal belongings

Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus released their first joint album, <em>The Invasion</em>. (Photo courtesy Raymond Knight)
Nanaimo rappers Konfidential and Teus release first joint album

Duo plan elaborate live-streamed CD release for ‘The Invasion’

Next month Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases his solo debut album, ‘Wildlife.’ (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo musician Spencer Hiemstra releases solo debut album

New record ‘Wildlife’ about taking chances and going through changes

Dover Bay Secondary School student Victoria Hathfield’s poem <em>Dear Santa</em> appears in<em> Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air</em>. (Photo courtesy Darren Lee)
Nanaimo high schooler has first poem published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’

Victoria Hathfield’s ‘Dear Santa’ appears in new Christmas-themed edition of anthology series

Nanaimo graphic designer Amy Pye has written and illustrated her first children’s book, <em>G is for Grizzly Bear: A Canadian Alphabet</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Nanaimo graphic designer releases first children’s book

Amy Pye teaches the Canadian alphabet in ‘G is for Grizzly Bear’

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

Most Read