I spent an exhausting but amazing morning volunteering at FoodShare. (It was exhausting only because I’m so pathetically out of shape.)
FoodShare is a non-profit agency that works with communities to improve access to affordable, healthy food. They run student nutrition programs and community gardens, among other initiatives, but their best known program is probably the Good Food Box.
Every month, 4,000 Good Food Boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables are delivered through 200 volunteer-run neighborhood drop-offs in Metro Toronto. The Good Food Box program is subsidized by government funding and donations so that each box full of fresh fruit and vegetables sells for a very affordable $12 or $17.
The majority of Good Food Box customers are low-income community members, but anyone is welcome — and encouraged — to order a box. The FoodShare motto is “good, healthy food for all” and their mission is to make the world a better place one leek and rutabaga at a time. Okay, I made that last one up.
They do believe in changing people’s lives through healthier eating, however. And it was such a warm, welcoming environment there, I had no trouble believing it too.
The company I work for “adopted” FoodShare last year as the charity they’ve chosen to support. They do pro bono work for them, donating time, resources and employee hours to helping out in many ways. Today, me and 17 of my colleagues spent the morning at their headquarters. Some worked in the garden while others built composters or chopped till they dropped in the kitchen.
I helped pack Good Food Boxes full of fresh produce delivered directly from local farms. Each box is rolled along an assembly line and packed with heavy items like potatoes and melons first, then broccoli, oranges, mushrooms, asparagus. Then, ta da, my turn. I was responsible for placing three tomatoes and a head of romaine lettuce on top of each box. Our “instructor” told us to “pack each box with love” and to be gentle with every item, and that’s what I tried to do.
Here are some highlights:
- My line neighbour, Ron, a 70-something Nova Scotian, reciting his lovely poems to me as we packed. He also gave me a recipe for Honeymoon Salad … “lettuce alone” … badump bump.
- Hearing about the value of “rainbow eating” … fruits and vegetables of every colour of the rainbow … and noticing the rainbow of cultures in our group.
- Inhaling the fresh earthy aroma of 25 pounds of potatoes as we opened the sack to divide them into two-pound bags.
- Getting to wear a spiffy apron as opposed to the hairnets they had to wear on kitchen duty.
P.S. This should be their theme song, I think. Enjoy!