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Fresh and healthy for two decades: Georgian Good Food Box program marks 20 years of service

Produce is seen in this file photo. Produce is seen in this file photo.
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The Georgian Good Food Box (GGFB) program is celebrating 20 years of providing fresh and healthy food to the South Georgian Bay community.

GGFB is a non-profit buying club that purchases fresh fruits and vegetables monthly for distribution.

The organization's mission is "To optimize the health of residents of South Georgian Bay through the provision of quality, fresh fruit and vegetable boxes and to foster awareness and encourage healthy food choices by promoting the consumption of locally grown produce."

Since April 21, GGFB has accumulated 86,000 bags of local produce, typically containing a variety of fruits and vegetables.

"Along with our supplier, we have calculated that our volunteers have packed over 1.2 million kilograms of fresh produce. We have no paid staff at all," says Mark Redmond, the GGFB program coordinator.

Currently, the organization has around 60 volunteers who come to the each pack location on the third Wednesday of the month. The pack could typically take up to two hours to complete.

"It is quite a process to see 9,000 pounds of produce come off the truck at 9 a.m. and be packed in bag liners and out of the building by noon at our Collingwood location. The Wasaga Beach and Stayner pack statistics are similar to this timeline," says Redmond.

Redmond stresses how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their numbers. Still, they are back to packing over 600 boxes monthly at the three locations in Wasaga Beach, Stayner, and New Lowell.

"This is slightly above our average winter months' numbers pre-COVID.

The demand for donated boxes has increased over the years, and we are striving to meet that need ourselves and with customers funding the purchase of an 'extra' box for us to donate to fulfill a request for the produce," says Redmond.

The program has not changed much since then, except for Collingwood delivery volunteers, who significantly boost many customers, including those at work, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

Collingwood staff packs over 300 food boxes daily and arrive in customers' homes by 1:30 p.m.

Buyers range from office workers to individuals who pay a premium for boxes that can be donated to persons in need who cannot afford to do so themselves.

"When we deliver especially to some of the people that are not doing so well economically, and see the conditions they are living in, we feel so grateful to be in a position to help. The need is there. People with good hearts are doing good things for people that need help," concluded Redmond.

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