Post-secondary students are among Calgarians taking advantage of a more affordable way to add fresh fruit and vegetables to the dinner table.
The Good Food Box program, started by Marilyn Gunn, founder and CEO of the Community Kitchen Program of Calgary (CKP), provides people the opportunity to order boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables at a lower cost than grocery stores.
Trevor Friesen, Good Food Box program manager, says the program has come a long way since Gunn started it from her home with six deliveries, operating out of the laundry room she converted into a warehouse.
“Today, we deliver anywhere from 1200-1500 boxes a month,” said Friesen.
Schools, community centres and churches make up some of the 130 depots across the city, he said.
Post-secondary institutions are among the many depots that have signed up for the program.
SAIT, the University of Calgary (U of C) and Mount Royal University (MRU) have all experienced the value in offering The Good Food Box program to students, staff and faculty.
Shawnee Belleville, campus food bank co-coordinator for the Students’ Union Campus Food Bank at the U of C, says they have been running the program for just about two years.
She says there has been an increase in demand since it started, and in particular people in need of more affordable food options are utilizing it.
Belleville says on average there are around 15-20 Good Food Box orders on a monthly basis.
“We are seeing more people in need using it.”
Not only the average student who thinks it’s a great idea, but also people who need more affordable food at a better price, she said.
Kenneth Taylor, SAITSA VP External, says the program has grown consistently since it was introduced at SAIT, and now averages about 40-50 orders per month.
There is typically an increase in usage around certain times like Christmas, when people have a tighter budget, he said.
In addition, the Students’ Association (SAITSA) is in the process of rolling out a food bank and emergency student loan program.
Thomas Cruickshank, SAITSA VP Academic, recognized the need for these programs on campus and they are set to be implemented this month.
“Ultimately that’s what we [SAITSA] are here for.
“To support the students in all aspects of student life,” said Taylor.
Alana-Dawn Eirikson, sustainability centre co-ordinator for the Students’ Association of MRU, says orders have fluctuated in the past, but this year, they have been more consistent with around 30 boxes ordered per month.
Eirikson says there is definitely a demand for the program.
“The people who use it, really value it,” she said.
In addition to the Good Food Box program, both U of C and MRU already have food bank programs, which offer hampers to individuals in need.
SAIT will soon be offering a similar program.