Food Access and Local Food Systems- COVID19 Impacts

Since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic in early March 2020, LUSH Valley has been following the lead of the Capital Regional Food and Agriculture Roundtable to provide a regular briefing to Comox Valley government representatives at the municipal, regional, provincial and federal level. These briefing reports provide regional highlights of food security needs, programs, services and initiatives that are responding to the crisis.  The briefings also supply provincial, federal and global information on food supply and food producer issues and supports.

These briefings are to inform governments, emergency planners and other decision-makers and stakeholders of the importance and relevance of bringing food security and local food systems top of mind and onto their agendas at this unprecedented time.

TESTIMONIALS – What people are saying about LUSH Valley’s Good Food Boxes:

“Blessings to everyone involved in these beautiful bags of nutritional foods ♡ When I opened the first one it was so appreciated I cried happy tears for the love put into that gift. ♡ Thanks for being an amazing, caring, dedicated group of people!”
– Good Food Box recipient, April 26

“Thank you, thank you! My kids and I were so grateful to receive your grocery delivery today. Absolutely amazing! I was pleasantly surprised to see so many fresh fruits and veggies.
Thank you for convincing me it’s okay to accept a donation during these trying times. It really makes a huge difference for myself and my kids.”
-Good Food Box recipient, May 8

Comox Valley Briefing June 8- July 31, 2020

  • Emergency program registration has somewhat stabilized with minor fluctuations in recent weeks: ~1200-1400 across the valley.
  • Some local farmers/producers are having their best season.
  • LUSH Valley emergency programs dealing with ongoing delivery challenges for programs due to loss of school buses (loss of 3 buses, drivers and support).
  • Extension of CERB showing potential hiring challenges for food-system and charity workers – issues of overwork and burnout for staff are prevalent.
  • Urban agriculture and gardening continue to be very popular – new municipal policy to support this continues to gain traction (Comox and Courtney actively).
  • Courtenay OCP process reopens, CV Food Policy Council (CVFPC) active as stakeholders.
  • Two UBCM resolutions drafted by CVFPC and passed through CVRD: 1) Farmer’s Markets as essential services 2) Food supply/security part of EOC.
  • Business Case action plans and feedback request that local and provincial economic recovery focus on ‘buy local’ campaigns, consider local food and food security as economic drivers, and provide funds for more inclusive dialogue.
  • Community Health Network and EOC after-action dialogues and evaluations highlight the importance of food security in our emergency response.
  • Concerns about ‘second wave’ and reduced emergency funding for food programs a ‘perfect storm’ for fall
  • With recent announcements of students returning full-time to school in September, program leaders are working together to advocate and educate to ensure that school food programs can restart safely.
  • Access to food continues to be a major barrier for those who are extremely marginalized (ie: homeless living in encampments or otherwise sleeping rough). Care-a-van are giving out 4x as much food as ever – food is the #1 request they get – with not enough funding to meet the increased need. They are predominantly seeing homeless seniors and youth.


    LUSH Valley:

    – Working with over 20 agency partners; now supported by 7 new positions via Canada Summer Jobs
    – Delivery issues continue – PW transit currently supports daily handy dart vehicle and driver (but this is not secure); LUSH borrowing Habitat for Humanity’s minibus for the season.
    – LUSH purchasing 40% local food (for emergency + other programs) to support local farmers
    – Hot Meal Program: Currently serving ~1000 meals weekly to over 500 individuals; 13,000+ meals this year
    – Hot Meal Program Evaluation (completed by program partners in July): Many partners appreciate that the program allowed them to keep supporting their clients when their own services had to be cut back due to COVID-19. The quality, diversity, and portion size of meals were generally well-received, and those serving seniors also indicated an interest in receiving additional meals to be reheated at a later time. 78% of respondents see a need for this program to continue for their clients over the next year.
    – Good Food Box: ~480 households (=700 ‘units’- one week’s worth of fresh food- delivered) receiving bi-weekly GFB, with a waitlist for new registrations. 10, 500+ GFB units delivered since April.
    – Good Food Box Evaluation (completed by GFB recipients in June): People were very grateful to receive healthy food that they normally wouldn’t try or be able to afford. Of survey respondents, 86% think there is a need for the Good Food Box to continue once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, and only 18% predicted that their financial situation will improve over the remainder of 2020.

    Other Groups providing emergency food services in the Comox Valley (stats unavailable): Cumberland Food Share, CV Food Bank, Salvation Army, Komoks First Nation, Black Creek Food Bank, Denman Island Education Society, Wachiay Friendship Center, Sonshine Lunch Club, CV Family Services and others. (Please send additional stats/info regarding these programs to


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