To reflect on those 20 years of rich history, we spoke with Simone Thibault, the Executive Director at the Centretown Community Health Centre (CCHC). CCHC has been supporting the Ottawa Good Food Box since it began in 1996.
In what ways is CCHC working for food security in Ottawa?
Since we are very concerned about families and individuals not having enough to eat, we have worked on food security at many levels. As one example, we launched the Ottawa Good Food Box 20 years ago to respond to the need for access to healthy and affordable fresh fruit and vegetables that people could purchase at low cost, without breaking the bank. We also work with our local partners to support community gardens and the Market Mobile and we organize cooking workshops on how to stretch one’s limited budget to eat healthy and affordable food.
At the corporate level, for the past few years, our board of directors has identified food security as one of its top advocacy issues to make the case for improved access to affordable healthy food at a neighbourhood level. The board has also advocated for improved policies related to income so that people can have the means to purchase the food that they need instead of relying on charity.
Why is the Good Food Box needed as a city-wide initiative?
We launched the Good Food Box in collaboration with the Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres 20 years ago as there was a need for families and individuals to access healthy and affordable food in many neighbourhoods across the city. This initiative was a collective effort to bring affordable fruit and vegetables to communities so that they could access with pride – without stigma – as it was for everyone. As the Ottawa Good Food Box works with neighbourhoods to bring food closer to their home, it has become a vital service.
What are the benefits of the Good Food Box? What is the best thing about it?
The best thing is people having the opportunity to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables at a bulk cost closer to home. The other important benefit is neighbours connecting with their neighbours to making it happen in their community. Food is a great connector and can help break isolation which is important for people and community’s health and well-being.
What are the next steps for the Good Food Box?
The Ottawa Good Food Box is evaluating how to increase its revenue stream as it has maxed its ability to reach out to more communities due to limited resources. We are also working hand in hand with our partners who work in the area of food security to see how best to maximize our collective efforts to do more.