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Abbotsford Harvest Box provides affordable produce

Harvest Boxes distributed in Abbotsford on a recent pickup day featured the above produce.   - Vikki Hopes
Harvest Boxes distributed in Abbotsford on a recent pickup day featured the above produce.
— image credit: Vikki Hopes

A new program in Abbotsford is filled with surprises every two weeks.

That’s when people who signed up for the Abbotsford Harvest Box pick up their 10-pound boxes of produce and discover what’s inside.

Recently, the cartons were filled with asparagus, harvest tomatoes, bananas, apples, carrots, oranges, cucumbers and garlic.

“It’s exciting (to see what’s inside) because nobody knows what’s going in the box until the day of the pickup,” said Alison Homer, coordinator of Vibrant Abbotsford, the organization running the program.

Abbotsford Harvest Box began last summer to make nutritious food more affordable. Although the focus is on low-income families and individuals, anyone is welcome to participate.

The program involves pre-ordering and paying the $8 fee per box either online at vibrantabbotsford.ca/harvestbox or in person at the Vibrant Abbotsford office (33355 Bevan Ave.) by the deadline.

Box pickup days are the second and last Thursdays of each month, with the ordering deadline one week prior.

Participants select one of three pickup sites – the Community Living building at 2539 Montvue Ave., Eugene Reimer Middle School at 3433 Firhill Dr. and University of the Fraser Valley’s student union office.

The next ordering deadline is May 22, with pickup on May 29. There is no limit to how much or how often people order, and there is no membership fee or club signup.

Homer said the program continues to grow in popularity, drawing people from all socio-economic backgrounds.

“We wanted to have a program that was open to everybody,” she said.

The initiative is an offshoot of the Harvest Box program that began 15 years ago and has been running from Vancouver to Aldergrove.

Vibrant Abbotsford, an organization aimed at reducing poverty and an initiative of United Way of the Fraser Valley, wanted to make the program more accessible to Abbotsford residents.

A total of $30,000 in grants was obtained from the Vancouver Foundation, Vancity and First West Foundation.

The produce is purchased in bulk – using locally grown products as much as possible – by the main Harvest Box program, which also packs the boxes and delivers them to Abbotsford.

A total of 961 boxes were delivered in Abbotsford last year from July 25 to Dec. 12, saving clients 31 per cent of their produce expenses, according to Homer.

Vibrant Abbotsford is now expanding on the non-profit program’s popularity by introducing the Abbotsford Bulk Buying Club, enabling people to purchase non-perishable items – such as flour, cereal, pasta and rice – as well as household items such as toilet paper and soap at savings as high as 63 per cent off the supermarket prices.

Ordering procedures/deadlines and pickups are the same as for the Harvest Box.

For more information, call the Vibrant Abbotsford office at 778-880-8516, email alison@vibrantabbotsford.ca or visit vibrantabbotsford.ca.

Pat Christie of Abbotsford Community Services shows Alison Schmidbauer the items that are in the Harvest Box she came to pick up on April 10 at the Community Living office on Montvue Avenue. Photo by Vikki Hopes.

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