LUSH Valley Food Action Society is on the search for a new home.
For the past few months, the local organization – which helps people within the Comox Valley gain local food system skills, knowledge and access to good food – has been operating out of the Comox Valley Curling Club on Headquarters Road.
Now that the curling season is ramping up and the ice is set to go back in, the organization is looking to move as they continue to operate their Hot Meals and Good Food Boxes (healthy food hampers) programs, explains Maurita Prato, executive director of LUSH.
“There was so much generosity and we loved working with the curling club and the Comox Valley Regional District, and it was so nice to know that the curling club was really happy with what we were doing.”
Currently, LUSH is working with the CVRD and other organizations to find a potential space, but Prato notes despite the uncertainty, she credits the community for looking out for the organization.
“We’re going to land, but we’re not sure where or when quite yet.”
In early spring shortly after the pandemic hit, the Comox Valley Food Bank shut its doors temporarily, and Prato knew there was a need for some new programs.
“We realized this isn’t something that is going to go away in a few weeks. Pretty quickly, we arranged a call with the CVRD and the City (of Courtenay) for the Hot Meals program and the food box.”
On April 1, the organization was using the kitchen facilities at the Florence Filberg Centre and producing 200 meals a day, along with 25 food boxes. On April 8, upon shifting to the curling club, LUSH was able to produce up to 70 boxes a day. Prato credits the large-scale effort to the support of local growers and suppliers and the curling club for allowing the programs to restart.
“We have now made over 20,000 meals and more than 7,000 food boxes. We have a really nice team of staff and volunteers, and it was a really positive experience. We realize now that we’re really looking for a long-term location. With an economic recovery lens, the idea of supporting local producers and food growers is really exciting.”
Free access to the two programs is the goal, as they are aimed at providing food to those in need in the Valley. However, Prato says LUSH is looking at programs that can generate some revenue as well to diversify their model and to make it more viable.
As for their future location, Prato notes that a free space is always better, as LUSH could have more of a reach in the community, but paying some rent is a possibility if the space has an office and fits their needs.
“We’re excited about what the future holds. The curling club was a big in-kind donation, and the generosity is really the key part – we’re so grateful as we’ve seen the community really cares.”
For more information about LUSH or to contact Prato about a possible space, visit LushValley.org or call 250-331-0152.