News

College Supporting Lush Valley During COVID-19 Pandemic

Message from College President Pauline Stevenson:

As the Regional Ambassador for the Women’s Enterprise Centre of BC, I have been encouraged to support local community initiatives during this time, and I have selected to support the efforts of Lush Valley Emergency Food Share Program to meet the needs of local families. Scotia Bank has agreed to match donations up to a maximum of $5000.00. I am grateful for this opportunity through the Women’s Enterprise Centre of BC to be able to financially support our Valley during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lush Valley’s efforts came to my attention through some dear friends of mine here in the Comox Valley. They became aware of how Lush had stepped up during this pandemic, and in particular, the partnership they created with School District 71. Many children in the Valley are reliant on the breakfast and hot lunch programs, and now with no school, local teachers have identified a number of high risk families. The District reached out to Lush Valley to create a partnership and to ensure that these needs are being met. Two local bus drivers volunteered to deliver the food hampers to families associated with the District.

The sudden onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in layoffs, requirements for self-isolation/quarantine, and a myriad of other challenges. This has resulted in Lush Valley evolving from their grass-roots food security activities to being an emergency front line resource in a mere matter of days. Over the past three weeks, LUSH Valley and the CV Food Policy Council has been working with community partners on an emergency response.  All staff are working remotely.

Here are a few highlights of (some) of their efforts:

Emergency Food Share program: Lush Valley has created and launched an online platform (lushvalley.org/food-share) to gather information on individuals and agencies’ food access needs and developed a plan to serve them. This platform also allows businesses and farmers to donate food.  Hired a coordinator to support this program. Set-up a helpline (250-207-HELP). 

Lush Valley has written program manuals and trained volunteers to manage the calls and assist individuals who are not able to access a computer to enroll in the program.

Lush Valley has secured locations with The City of Courtenay and the CVRD to set-up our Emergency Food Share services. These locations will be for distribution only and are not known to the general public, in an effort to maintain COVID-19-related safety protocols and FoodSafe practices. The number of volunteers engaged will be limited, to keep everyone safe.

School District 71: There is an immediate need to distribute food to students /families connected to the school system. Many children who once relied on school lunch and breakfast programs now have no access to food. Lush Valley is currently delivering food hampers to SD71 families in need.

Hot Meal Program: On April 1 Lush Valley began preparing cooked meals for distribution through community partners (BC Housing, Senior Support Services, Salvation Army, CV Family Services, Community Health Network, Mental Health, Transition Society, etc. to name a few.) 1,000 meals a week will be distributed through this program.

Good Food Hamper Program: On April 8th Lush Valley started providing 50 hampers/day for the first week to scale to 200/day (1,000/week).

Lush Valley launched the Grow Food Everywhere Campaign to support home gardeners to grow food through. This includes an active Facebook group (for idea sharing, questions, etc.), as well as planning for the distribution of seeds, soils and seedlings.

Healthy Foods Programs going online: Launching the week of April 13, these programs will ensure continuity in our educational programs. Will include online classes, many geared to students, as well as two Facebook Groups, one for the general population and one geared towards educating children and teens about healthy food.

CV Farmers Market/local farmers: Farmers are considered an essential service to remain open. LUSH Valley has offered support for their new online market, assisting with aggregation and delivery of local produce.  To further support our community, Lush Valley is buying local whenever possible.

Cumberland Food Share Initiative: Lush Valley is sharing resources and partnering with them to provide this service.

What can I do to help?

While they are encouraged by the amazing community support they have received thus far, the financial resources to roll out these programs are extraordinary and will be ongoing for weeks to come. All donations, large and small, will help them feed our most vulnerable populations during these unprecedented times.  Monetary donations, rather than food items, are most helpful as they enable us to do our part to ‘flatten the curve’, get the most value from donations, and feed people in our community.

There are three ways you can make a donation:

1. Secure on-line donations can be made through:

  • Canada Helps
  • PayPal Giving Fund (Fees to us are lower than Canada Helps)

For BOTH of the above options, tax receipts are issued immediately for donations of $20 and over.

2. E-Transfer to admin@lushvalley.org

Please be sure to put your email and mailing address in the message box, so that they are able to send you a tax receipt once life returns to some sense of normalcy.

3. Mail cheques to:

LUSH Valley
c/o Terri Perrin
2420 Avro Arrow Drive
Comox, BC V9M 0A2

Lush Valley contact information:

Terri Perrin
Communications & Program Manager
LUSH Valley Food Action Society
(250) 331-0152

www.lushvalley.org