The Good Food Box: a well-kept secret

By: Genviève Gazaille 

Did you know that there is a place in Old Ottawa East where you can buy your produce at cost? If not, meet the Good Food Box, which has been in operation for 22 years in Ottawa. The Good Food Box is a program operated by the Centretown Community Health Centre that allows people to purchase fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices. It has 26 pick-up locations throughout the city, the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre Satellite Office, located on the ground floor of 95 Main Street, being one of them.

How does it work?

Once a month, customers are invited to place their order on the Good Food Box website no later than the 2nd Monday of the month, for pick-up at 95 Main the following Wednesday between 11am and 3pm. Customers can also arrange to order and pay in person so long as they contact the satellite office staff ahead of time.

The Good Food Box is different than a CSA (community supported agriculture) share in that payment is made month-to-month, without having to commit for a given amount of time.

Boxes come in three sizes, and other options include an organic box and a fruit bag. The beauty of the Good Food Box is that customers can order as many boxes as they want! Prices vary from $10 to $25, and the program has estimated that, on average, savings range between 20% and 35% of what would typically be paid at a grocery store.

It is worth noting that customers cannot choose the content of their box.

While the boxes are different every month and no substitutions are provided, many clients enjoy the fact that they get to discover new foods. And the Good Food Box makes things easier by supplying a monthly newsletter containing recipes and information on some of the featured foods.

During harvest season, a lot of the fruits and vegetables come from local farmers rather than from wholesalers. Examples of participating producers include Ferme aux Pleines Saveur, Barkley’s Apple Orchard, Ferme Chapeau Melon and Our Little Farm.

A program for everyone

The program is accessible to anyone and everyone and is meant to benefit the community as a whole.

“While we recognize that this program may address a need in terms of food security, it’s important to know that there are no criteria on who can participate”, says Chris Osler, project coordinator and community developer with the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre.

“The intention of the program is to make good and healthy fruits and vegetables available in convenient locations at affordable prices throughout the year. “It’s also a useful program for those who live in what we call ‘food deserts’, neighborhoods like OOE, that don’t have food stores within their boundaries,” notes Osler.

To order from the Good Food Box and to learn about its partner programs, visit www.ottawagoodfoodbox. ca. To find out more about the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre’s programs relating to food security, see:

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