Dear Friends and Supporters of LUSH Valley Food Action Society

On behalf of the LUSH Valley Food Action Society staff and Board of Directors, I extend heartfelt gratitude for your generous donations in support of our work in 2020. As a small local nonprofit organization, our programs depend on the generosity of members of our community, like you!

Last year was our 20th Anniversary. We had hoped to celebrate with a gathering to reflect and honour our last 20 years. Instead, we quickly pivoted our programs to meet the gaps that the pandemic widened in terms of healthy food access. In late March, when other agencies that had previously provided various food support programs shut down, we launched an Emergency Food Share Program while continuing to adapt and run other important initiatives. Within two weeks of the pandemic announcement, we were able to expand our services to include the Good Food Box program (healthy food hampers) and add a Hot Meal program. (See reverse for highlights.)

Our success in 2020 was possible due to the generous support of a caring and supportive community. Working with social service agency partners, housing providers, School District 71, local farmers and all levels of government, we were able to provide healthy, mostly local food, in a dignified manner directly to people’s homes and through various street meal programs.

As we move forward into 2021, the donation(s) you have made, however large or small, will help us to sustain this vital community work. It is now important that we take the ‘emergency’ out of our programs and work towards ‘healthy local food access for all’ in an ongoing, equitable and sustainable way. This is the work ahead of us.

Thank you for aiding our mission to support the Comox Valley in gaining food systems skills and knowledge to increase food security, self-sufficiency, and local food production across the region … especially now, during this time of global crisis. Your generosity is greatly appreciated!

Maurita Prato ~ Executive Director

Click here to make a donation to support our work in 2021!

LUSH Valley 2020 Program Highlights

Food Share Programs from April 1, 2020

● 11,447 Good Food Boxes (GFB) distributed in a dignified and contactless manner
● 25,989 Hot Meals to those in need provided through our community partners
● GFB food was ‘as local as possible’ with 100% local from Mid-May to November and a minimum of 25% local year-round. This supported Comox Valley farmers and producers, and our local economy, with approximately $150,000 of purchases
● Collaborated with the City of Courtenay and the Comox Valley Regional District for the free use of facilities, and also over 20 social service agencies and 12 local farmers.

Fruit Tree Harvest and Farm Gleaning

● Fruit Tree Harvest: 105 harvest picks were conducted, 180 volunteers were trained and actively participating, and 25,000-pounds of fruits and vegetables were redistributed, primarily via home delivery in partnership with 13 social service agency partners
Farm Gleaning: 152 people were trained in farms or gardens. 44 harvest ‘events’ with 362 volunteer hours. 20 local growers were partners of the program
● 4,336 servings of garden vegetables went to 16 community organizations, schools and First Nations communities serving roughly 540 people
● In-kind donations received = 2,168 lbs of vegetables and farm fruit harvested and distributed. A market value of $11,317.

Urban Agriculture

● ‘Grow Food Everywhere Comox Valley’ Facebook group which rapidly grew to 2,000+ members, created on-line food growing tutorials and community engagement and information sharing for food growers
● 844 people participated in our gardens and workshops at Share the Harvest Community Garden or Vanier Garden.
● Added 2 ‘Food, Farm and Forage’ summer camps and Permaculture design workshops to our list of course offerings
● Started a seed library for downtown Courtenay and a seed and transplant distribution program for our community partners at Wachiay Friendship Center and Indigenous Education
● Worked with Tenants at BC Housing’s Washington Apartments to provide garden supplies and advice.

Healthy Foods

● Changed to an online format and became proficient in presenting cooking classes via ‘ZOOM’
● Continued to present in-person FoodSafe classes to provide job skills training to individuals
● In partnership with SD71 Indigenous Education, took a leadership role in the delivery of the revised Healthy Student Meal Program (formerly known as the Vanier Soup Project). Procured, assembled and delivered healthy snacks and soup-making ingredients to 12 to 15 schools and 800+ students weekly

Advocacy● The Comox Valley Food Policy Council completed its first year and was effective at creating a number of food systems policies at the provincial and local government levels, supporting municipal planning processes, and making sure food security solutions were responsive and equitable.
● Food Security in a Pandemic Podcast created 10 episodes, engaging in conversations about the issues as well as the opportunities in community food security throughout this crisis.
● Provided regular Food Systems and Food Supply briefing notes to all levels of government through the first 6 months of the pandemic.
● Worked with partners across the island, province, country and local government officials to keep community food security at top of mind during the planning and budget discussions.

Click here to make a donation to support our work in 2021!

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