In our last fiscal year (07/01/19-06/31/20), Nanaimo Foodshare turned 20! And what an eventful year 2019/2020 has been for Foodshare. We continued to run diverse programs which celebrate and align with our vision of ‘Our community food systems provide enough healthy local food for all to be nourished’
Some important highlights included:
- 6,803 Good Food Boxes in the community.
- Created and served over 17,800 meals.
- 18,400 servings of local fruit and vegetables to members of our community.
- 8,280 lbs of local fruit and vegetables gleaned from farms, gardens, and backyards.
This year, our urban farms shone bright and flourished! We started our fiscal year with a very successful community celebration and fundraiser at the Port Theatre. With a full house of approximately 700 people, the event demonstrated strong community support for the farm and the importance of local farms in the city. In September, the City of Nanaimo purchased the Five Acre Farm property, with a commitment of developing a park on the property. Congrats Nanaimo and thank you to the City for that amazing decision!
In mid-March, COVID shone a bright light on food security in our community. Nanaimo saw and responded to community members food needs in the crisis. Foodshare was an important part of the increased programs and support for food and nutrition security. Foodshare received support to expand programs in response to increased food needs in the community. As a community, we also gained more awareness of the issues of food access, food supply chains, and the importance of local food for our community. Foodshare saw a dramatic increase in community members starting or expanding their gardens, cooking at home and supporting each other to access food. COVID was a catalyst that accelerated the expansion of projects and the integration of farm education and food production with many of our programs. Like many other organizations, Foodshare increased access to programs through online food skills activities.
Good Food Box and Urban Farm Expansion:
Winter 2019 and Spring 2020, Foodshare had begun planning and seeding for 2020. We literally prepared the ground which allowed us to respond quickly to increased community food needs. We expanded the Good Food Box program through increased funding and community partnerships and linked the program to local food from the Urban Farms. We moved the program to Beban park to accommodate our increased needs for space and social distancing and created new protocols for COVID safety.
This year we moved the Good Food Box from a monthly box to a weekly box. This has meant that we have increased the GFB reach from 250-300 boxes per month to over 2,200 boxes per month. In addition to the food production for the Good Food Box, the Urban Farms provided opportunities for programs to continue to operate, in outdoor settings. Both employability skills programs relocated to the farms, the EAT program expanded their activities and participation by hosting two farm days per week at the farm and we partnered with Literacy Central Vancouver Island to provide a family literacy program at the farm. Many community partners appreciated opportunities to provide programs or volunteers activities in outdoor settings and are moving toward increasing their partnerships at the farm, including a developing partnership with Tsawalk Learning Centre to locate school activities one day per week at the farm, in the fall 2020.
Our work was recognized frequently in news articles across the region. Our social media presence grew considerably with growth on Facebook and Instagram with a total of 4,163 followers, as of June 30th, 2020. We were featured in the Five Acres Farm Film, and produced multiple promotional and educational videos. In closing, the most rewarding aspect of my role is working with talented and dedicated staff, volunteers and partners. I am proud of the Foodshare team for bringing forward quality programs, supporting people to gain skills and become more food secure, and putting pressure on the status quo to ensure that the focus on food security includes nutrition security and local food systems. Who we share food with expresses who we consider to be a part of our community, our friends, our family. We are motivated to be a part of the change that creates a healthy food community that is inclusive of everyone, for the next 20 years and beyond.
Thanks to everyone for being a part of the “Foodshare family”!