Saturday, April 8, 2017

Thinking inside the (Good Food) Box

Lately there’s been a lot of ink spilled about the high cost of living, like the cost of electricity and municipal tax and water increases. Since none of those are things we can immediately address at the household level, we need to look for other ways to save, particularly if we are struggling to put food on the table in the face of rising food prices.
Luckily, Barrie has a program which does just that, by providing a deep discount on a box of fresh produce every month. Called the Good Food Box, this no-membership food-buying club runs in many cities and in Barrie is administered by a collaboration of local organizations led by the Canadian Mental Health Association, who know that food is a key contributor to physical and mental health. And under the Urban Pantry Project, a partnership between the Good Food Box and FruitShare Barrie funded with a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Barrie’s Good Food Box has grown and expanded considerably over the past year, and may now be just what you need to ease your grocery budget woes and boost your healthy diet.
All you do is order and pay for your box by the 2nd Wednesday of the month, and then pick it up on the 3rd Wednesday. There are now 4 pickup locations for your convenience: Barrie Free Methodist Church from 11:30 am – 4:30 pm, City Hall Rotunda from 12 – 4, Georgian College from 2 - 5, and Holly Rec Centre from 5 – 7 pm. Hopefully one of these times and locations works for you. You can order and pay online, or order in person and pay cash at the CMHA, Barrie Community Health Centre, or Barrie Free Methodist.
You have two choices of box: the small for $12 (for 1-2 people) or the family-size for $17. A typical small box includes 5 pounds of potatoes, 2 pounds each onions, carrots & parsnips, 3 pounds of apples, 4 oranges, and a cabbage. The large box doubles the potatoes & oranges, adds more apples, and throws in 2 pounds of beets. Contents vary month-to-month and come from Giffen Orchards, who ensure high quality fresh produce mainly sourced in Ontario and as local as seasonally possible.
The Barrie Good Food Box is a non-profit program run with the support of community volunteers who sort and pack the boxes and distribute them at the 4 pickup sites. Buying in bulk and passing along the savings means you get more for your food dollar. The price has not risen for several years and will continue to stay stable so you can plan your food budget with confidence.
To order, to find handy recipes, or see the calendar of upcoming Box days and other events, visit Or if you’d like to volunteer or have questions, visit or call 705-791-BGFB (2432).
The Urban Pantry Project will soon wrap up its successful first year, and is planning to apply for longer-term funding to further expand Barrie’s local food security measures beyond the two current projects with possible initiatives like community gardens, fleet farming, indoor gardens, or other innovative projects. A special Let’s Get Growing event on April 12 will explore new ideas and start planning their integration. If you have a passion to contribute to a food-related project and would like to take part in this event, email for an invitation. With citizens like you, Barrie can become a food paradise!
Published in the Barrie Examiner as Root Issues: Good Food Box program continues to expand in Barrie

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins serves on the boards of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

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