Emma Warren, the assistant manager of student experience at SAITSA, thinks that the program allows students to get good food for a great price.
“SAITSA has been running the Good Food Program for five years,” said Warren.
“It’s a city-wide project, but we act as a temporary depot throughout the semester so staff and students can easily access it.”
The Good Food Boxes are done through Community Kitchen Calgary, a volunteer program, and is just one of the many projects that they run. Interested individuals can visit one of the depot locations in the city and order a Good Food Box.
“We want to offer a service to students and staff where they can get fresh produce for cheap,” Warren said.
“We don’t make any money off it, and anything that we take in goes back to the program.”
The program runs at SAIT from September until April.
“In the last three months we have had 120 boxes sold for September, October and November,” said Warren. “There are three different sizes: a small, medium, and large box.”
The prices for the boxes vary, depending on the weight and how much food each box contains. Twenty pounds of food is priced at $25, 30 pounds for $30, and 40 pounds costs $35.
“The contents varies depending on the season, and what the organization can get a hold of,” Warren said.
“You get your staples like oranges, apples, bananas, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and celery. And sometimes, there will be different fruits and vegetables. It’s never exactly the same from month to month. Community Kitchen Calgary tries to support local as much as possible.”
Warren said that the program is designed for everyone. They don’t, however, allow special requests to be made about the contents of each box.
“People can’t make any special requests, [for dietary restrictions]. It’s just how they get delivered.
“Some students have left things behind if they don’t want them, so we can always put them into a different box if somebody wants that,” she said.
The process of purchasing a Good Food Box is simple.
“They have to come to our office, fill out a form, provide us with the cash, and that’s it. It’s easy,” said Warren.
Anisa Abbas, the community assistant for floors 12 and 13 of the Begin Tower Residence on SAIT Campus, has been a user of the food boxes in the past and thinks it’s a valuable resource for students who live on campus.
“The grocery shopping is already done for you,” said Abbas. “It takes away the stress of grocery shopping, and having to go out with your list, and then lugging all that back.”
Abbas said that it is a long way for residents to travel to get groceries each week, and that transit can cause problems for students during rush hour when they are laden with shopping bags.
“From Begin Tower, the food boxes are a five-minute walk away,” said Abbas.
“You know when the boxes are going to arrive, so you can supplement your pantry in the meantime. They normally last quite a while. [One 20 pound box] lasts me about three weeks.”
Abbas added that the 20-25 pound boxes are usually enough for one person, the 30 pounder is great for two, and the 40-45 pound option is superb for three or more.
“I like that it’s inexpensive, and that the food is delivered to campus. You know when to expect it. Plus, there is a wide variety of food.”
“I have gotten some ingredients that I don’t typically use, but it makes me research, ‘what can I do with beets or leeks,’” said Abbas.
“I’ve ended up learning a lot more about cooking and different methods of preparation.”
Abbas said that experimenting with the more unusual items in the boxes isn’t a huge loss, because her money isn’t being wasted. The boxes only provide so much of a certain fruit or vegetable while going to a grocery store lets consumers buy more than what they actually need to try something new.
“What I would change is that they could make the boxes customizable, or at least be able to substitute certain parts out for something else that is in season,” Abbas said.
“I understand why they don’t though. If they gave people too many options things would start to get crazy.
“It’s a good option for residents because we don’t have a meal plan like other universities and institutions,” said Abbas.
“It’s a great value. You get a receipt once you’ve paid, and then show it when you go to pick it up.”
The February order will run until Feb. 21, and the pick-up will be on March 2. Payment must be made by 4 p.m. on Feb. 21.
Orders can be placed in room MC 107 in the Stan Grad Building, next to the library.