In 2020, LUSH Valley has been a whirlwind of activity and adaptation. The pandemic has forced a culture of rapid innovation and responsiveness, but we have also seen our community come together in the face of challenge and respond with generosity, kindness and collaboration. It has been so heartening.
As this year draws to a close, we can look back with the confidence that our little organization is having a big impact. LUSH Valley touched the lives of 9,000+ people across the Comox Valley — a new record for us! We worked hard to pivot existing programs for safe delivery and created new programs and initiatives to meet the needs of our community.
At LUSH Valley, we have always thought of food and food systems as a way to connect, empower and inspire- despite challenges, we have been able to adapt and often expand our programming this year so more people could engage with their local food systems.
Our Healthy Foods (Cooking) Programs went online; our Urban Agriculture/Community Gardens programs expanded and encouraged folks to ‘Grow Food Everywhere’; and our Fruit Tree Harvest and Farm Gleaning program continued, with COVID safety protocols in place. (more details in our end of year newsletter on December 14th, 2020)
Throughout the pandemic, we have been there for our communities, especially those who are vulnerable. With many community meal programs shut down (due to the Pandemic), and an increased need for healthy food delivery programs we started two Food Share programs in April 2020 to provide, safe, dignified and healthy support:
The Good Food Box (healthy food hampers): Delivered 10, 669 units to over 600 households across the region; a week’s worth of healthy foods including eggs, cheese, whole grains, bread, fruits and vegetables to vulnerable members of our community. 75% of food was purchased from local farms and producers and/or gleaned regionally.
Hot Meal Program: In collaboration with partner agencies we have delivered over 24,000 hot, healthy meals throughout our community.
Being in the role of an emergency food provider is a new one for us.
We have done our best to create new programs that are
dignified, safe and provide support for local farmers and growers,
while also providing healthy food for those who need it most.
The Perfect Storm for Food Insecurity: The expense to our organization of running these programs has been high but we believe that the high quality of programs we offer is vitally important in order to provide ethical food system solutions to the food systems problems we face.
Unfortunately, most of our emergency funding has run out and the current Good Food Box program will end on Dec. 18. (Read the full story here.)
For LUSH Valley, programs must promote health, empowerment, and connection. We aim to fill minds and hearts as well as bellies. That is why this year we are asking for you to dig deep, … in your heart and in your pockets to provide a larger gift or sign up as a monthly donor.
This has been a challenging year for everyone. Let’s continue to work together towards a food secure future in 2021 and beyond for all members of our community.
Wishing you all the very best this holiday season. Stay kind, stay calm, stay well.