Emma Meldrum – Special to the Seeker
At 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month, a mix of seniors and students gather in a hallway on the first floor of General Vanier. They’re all volunteers, donating their time in exchange for some leftover food and the satisfaction of a job well done. Their goal is to fill about 150 plastic bins with fresh produce – in only an hour.
Corey Robidoux, a student at T.R. Leger School, tries to be there every month, helping to lift and stack the boxes after they are filled. He says he enjoys giving back.
“It’s a good, generous thing to do for the community. [My teacher] Miss Lalonde asked if I wanted to help, so I volunteer every month.”
Assistance from students like Robidoux is essential to the program, says Health Promoter Stephanie Hemmerick, who works for the Centre de santé communautaire de l’Estrie.
“We get a lot of students from T.R. [Leger] which is great because one of the challenges with our volunteers is they’re older and can’t lift.”
These volunteers are the backbone of the Green Food Box, a program which provides fruits and vegetables to local families at an affordable rate. This month, about 15 people gave their time to ensure the boxes were properly packed on time. Directions and encouragement were doled out in a mix of French and English as green bins slid along a row of tables, quickly filling up. The contents of the boxes vary according to what is available. Asparagus, grapefruit, and beets were part of this month’s haul, alongside favourites like potatoes, apples, and bananas. All told, about 15 different products went into the $15 box. While organizers aim to buy from local producers, that’s not always possible.
“A lot of people don’t realize how short the local season is,” said Hemmerick. “We do manage to get about 80% local in our boxes during the summer months.”
Summer is an excellent time to start ordering from the Green Food Box. Each order is filled with healthy food and plenty of care. Visit www.greenfoodbox.ca for pickup and payment details.