LUSH Valley appealed to Courtenay council to help restart the Good Food Box Program for Vulnerable Citizens. File photo

LUSH Valley appealed to Courtenay council to help restart the Good Food Box Program for Vulnerable Citizens. File photo

Comox Valley organization hopes to restart food program

In a Monday presentation to Courtenay council, the LUSH Valley Food Action Society requested $100,000 to help restart the Good Food Box Program for Vulnerable Citizens. The group hopes the money could be provided through government’s Safe Restart funding program.

From April to December 2020, LUSH distributed 11,447 food boxes. Executive director Maurita Prato describes the boxes as “healthy hampers” that contain fresh food and some staple foods.

“We served 604 households,” she said, noting 83.2 per cent of recipients were Courtenay residents. “About $150,000 went directly to Comox Valley farmers and producers.”

Based on the Vital Signs report, one in five children in the Comox Valley experience poverty. Children also comprise 31 per cent of local food bank clients.

Based on a 2019 area profile, the percentage of the Valley’s population with low income is 21 per cent for children and youth, 14.7 per cent for adults and 12.3 per cent for seniors, says Kimberley Toonders, a community dietician at Island Health.

“The greatest predictor for food insecurity is low income,” Toonders said, noting food insecure populations have higher rates of chronic disease. “Stats show strong links with diabetes and heart disease, as well as decreased mental well-being. And as you can imagine, COVID-19 has increased the need for supports for food security.”

Prato said LUSH will strive to match city funding for the program.

“The goal is to have as much of the funding end up in the pockets of farmers and producers,” she said.

The society has secured three years of funding from the Vancouver Foundation to support staffing and development of a local food aggregation/distribution hub.

Council will discuss the request at a future meeting.