The Future of the Good Food Box Program
Good Food Box programs are designed to provide individuals and families with affordable and healthy fruits and vegetables. This project was a collaborative effort of the Food Security Work Group of the Ontario Public Health Association, FoodNet Ontario and the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition. We all share an enthusiasm for ensuring that Good Food Box programs are widely available throughout Ontario, resulting in increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables for individuals, children and families, particularly for those living on low Incomes.
The Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition (OHCC) was the lead organization for this 18 month project that operated from October 2009 until March 31, 2011. It was funded jointly by the Heart and Stroke Foundation through the Spark Community Advocacy Grants and the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport through the Healthy Communities Fund. A project steering committee was established, with representation from across Ontario, to provide guidance, direction and oversight to the project. Community Voices Consulting (CVC) (Cathy Cleary & Linda Stevens) were contracted to coordinate the project.
The anticipated key outcome of this project was improved advocacy efforts targeted at potential funders and local, provincial and federal levels of government to increase the sustainability of GFB programs.
One of the means of acheiving this outcome was to strengthen the network of Good Food Box (GFB) programs within the province. An environmental scan was undertaken of all the GFB programs across Ontario to create a data base and a foundation of knowledge. Originally, outreach efforts were targeted for up to 50 GFB programs. Through the project it was recognized that GFB program structures often include a primary “umbrella” program with numerous host site programs working under the umbrella. Some of these host sites are organizations or are towns/villages that offer programs that are semi-independent of the umbrella organization. Well over 250 organizations/towns/villages based sub-programs (with a greater number of residences acting as host sites) were found to be operating in the province with a reach of approximately 13,000 boxes being distributed each month. For details please see the Environmental Scan Report March 2011.
The Environment Scan provided the foundation to develop a provincial GFB Network. The first meeting of the GFB Network was held on March 4, 2010 at the Bring Food Home Conference in Kitchener Waterloo. Three additional regional networking meetings were held in person and another provincial network meeting was held by videoconference, webcast and teleconference. The GFB Network is using the programs database of FoodNet Ontario to store and update program information for GFB programs in Ontario. A listserv for their members has also been established so they can share information, ideas and resources.
The Environment Scan and initial networking activities, along with other concurrent research activities, informed the development of "Making the Business Case for Good Food Box Programs: A Planning Guide". This guide will assist GFB coordinators in their efforts to develop funding proposals, plan for long term sustainability and optimize program efficiency. It will also assist new GFB programs to be established in communities where none presently exist.
While the project was wrapped up on March 31, 2011, several members of the project steering committee, along with a number of GFP program coordinators, have committed to continue to meet to support the newly established network and continue to advocate for Good Food Box programs.
For more information about the GFB network please contact info[at]ohcc-ccso.ca.