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Fresh food. Close to home.

Fresh Food Weekly was addressing chronic disease by using a free [to recipients] nutrition-based intervention program to deliver fresh food on a biweekly basis. 

We raised funds to buy fresh and locally-sourced food, then packed this food into 'meal boxes' and then we delivered these meal boxes to the same recipients every other week. And for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, we raised extra funds so we could give one-time meal boxes to local low-income families. 

We gave.
Free food.

We serve populations who face health inequalities as they're at greater risk of developing chronic diseases, with the priority populations being people with disabilities, people of advanced age (65+), and Indigenous Peoples who are living on a fixed, low-rate, government-funded social benefit such as ODSP, OAS, CPP and CPP Disability. 

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We raised funds

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We bought in Bulk

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We packed Food

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We Delivered It

We're experiencing a public health crisis.

Household food insecurity is an urgent and worsening public health problem.  Canada’s economy and health care system is at the forefront of national concern as the number of Canadians experiencing food insecurity reaches an all-time high. By 2022, the percentage of Canadians living in food-insecure households had risen in every province. This means that 18.4% of Canadians - or 6.9 million people, including almost 1.8 million children (every one in four children under the age of 18), living in Canada struggled to access the food they needed. - PROOF  When Canadians are approved for government-funded disability supports, or reach the age of 65, our government has already determined they’re not capable of financially supporting themselves because of their physical and/or mental limitations. Yet the financial supports they’re provided remain so inexcusably low, it’s causing our disabled and elderly citizens to experience unprecedented levels of hunger.  The result of chronic household food insecurity is chronic disease.  And more specifically, it’s diabetes, hypertension and obesity.  Research tells us that food-insecure households:  - Make emergency room visits more often. - Have longer stays within the hospital setting. - Have a greater reliance on physician and home care services; and - Have higher prescription drug use.

We're addressing immediate food needs. 

Our biweekly meal box delivery program contributed to poverty reduction by providing access to fresh and nutritious food and by breaking down every single barrier preventing low-income families from getting enough fresh food into their homes. We treated food insecurity with on-going food access, and thus addressed the immediate and basic human needs of our program recipients. Regular, on-going fresh food deliveries stabilizes household food insecurity and thereby decreases the long-term strain on Canada’s health care system.

We're caring about the things that matter.

When people are provided with food options that reflect their dietary needs, it gives them a sense of dignity. It demonstrates that an importance has been placed on their physical and mental well-being and that that is something to be invested in. Furthermore, the privacy of having food delivered to them at home instead of outside in the elements, after waiting in long lineups, also provides dignity, making recipients feel more like human beings and less like animals.

Mission Statement: “Providing a free, fresh and locally-sourced food delivery service to low-income families.” 

 

Charitable Purpose: To reduce the long-term demand for health care services. 

Vision Statement: To breakdown every single barrier preventing low-income households from eating three meals a day.

Our journey

through the years

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Our years in numbers

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Raised

+$173K

in donations

Delivered

2,867

fresh food meal boxes

Gave

$325K

worth of fresh food

Funds raised over time

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$173,631.80

Grand total of

raised.

Our programs

Our bioregional initiatives

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Food Systems Planning

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Food Literacy

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Barrie's Foodshed

Our reports

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Key Metrics Report

Download our Key Metrics Report.

Impact Report

Download our 2022-2023 Fiscal Year 1 Impact Report.

Our plan forward

Fresh Food Weekly finished its last meal box deliveries on Tuesday, Jan. 16th, 2024 and won’t be doing anymore meal box deliveries until we get some proper support and funding.  We acknowledge that for the last few months, the program has been run poorly because there’s way too much for one person to do. And, although we have tons of incredible volunteers, what we need is some full-time staff, an operating facility, funding for the food AND operating expenses. Although Leah Dyck can personally raise $80-$100K a year, this isn’t remotely close to what’s needed.  ​ We know that Fresh Food Weekly is a great program that’s VERY needed in our community, ESPECIALLY right now. We know that stopping deliveries is the exact opposite of what our community needs. We understand that what we should be doing is doubling in size instead. We’re committed to doing everything we can to leverage the impact we’ve had over the last two years, and our VISION for a greater impact in the future, to help us find the managerial and funding support needed to run this food security program properly.  ​ We also know it’s cheaper to feed people than it is to treat them for chronic diseases caused from not feeding them. That’s why we want to conduct a three-year research study in partnership with the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre and their Chief Research Scientist. 

Fresh food isn't close to home for thousands of people in Barrie, Ont.

And by the end of 2023, the number of Barrie residents receiving Ontario Works rose to 2,055; a 14% increase from the year prior. 

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Yet in July 2023, the Ministry of Community, Children and Social Services announced they had no intention of raising ODSP rates and simply told recipients of the Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works (welfare) to get a job.  

 

Now, the average cost of living in Barrie is $3,839/month, which means disability benefits equate to 25 percent of the cost to survive. 

People living on a disability or old age security benefit have already been declared a non-working population group, yet they’re deprived of food due to insufficient financial assistance. 

 

Basically, what the Ministry of Community, Children and Social Services has done is pushed this problem onto the Ministry of Health since the eventual results of this level of food deprivation are chronic diseases. 

 

Access to fresh and nutritious food is undeniably a medically necessary service and by withholding a vast majority of the funds needed to survive, we’ve condemned our most vulnerable citizens to a slow and painful death. 

It is acknowledged that one of our health care policy challenges is controlling health costs while sustaining health and health care. It is also acknowledged that covering the costs of food access for this population group appears to be unsustainable. 

 

But does anyone really know? 

 

A population health approach to study health and health care costs among a sample-size population group within the environment of a three-year research study would finally provide the data needed to find out how much feeding the poor really costs over time. 

 

The intent of this proposed Research Study is to develop the evidence-based data needed to determine if a nutrition-based intervention program such as Fresh Food Weekly has the potential to offset the healthcare budget and thereby reduce the long-term demand for health care services among disadvantaged population groups. 

Fresh Food Weekly's Role

Fresh Food Weekly’s role in the proposed Research Study would simply be to do the weekly food deliveries to Study Participants. 

 

Between June 2022 and January 2024, Fresh Food Weekly raised +$173K and spent $93K on wholesale fresh food, and also received fresh food donations, which collectively, had a retail value of $325K. To accomplish this, +400 volunteers were coordinated to deliver this food to the front doorsteps of the same low-income families on a biweekly basis. This created food security within a very targeted population group (about 82% were on disability while the rest were old age). 

This demonstrates many things, one of the most important things being that Canadians don’t want to see their vulnerable citizens starve if there’s a simple and cost-effective way to feed them. 

 

Canadians also don’t want to go bankrupt feeding our most vulnerable though. That’s why Fresh Food Weekly only bought food at a reduced, discounted, wholesale or free (donated) price. 

Leah recently connected some dots on why Fresh Food Weekly was able to get so many unlimited and on-going produce donations from The Holland Marsh, which she has confirmed with one of her farmer donors. The nutrient levels in the Marsh’s soil are very high, and deplete slower than other types of farmlands. As a result, farmers in The Marsh are highly coveted by grocery stores and so there’s a ton of farmers with big grocery store contracts in The Holland Marsh. When farmers have contracts with grocery stores, they need to have a minimum of two extra fields available for each item under contract, incase the demand for each item suddenly increases. Ninety-nine of the time, there’s an extra two fields of everything. 

 

Dr. Valeria Tarasuka, who’s research is funded by the CIHR, helps fight food insecurity through PROOF, an interdisciplinary research program studying effective policy approaches to reduce household food insecurity in Canada. In May 2023, PROOF published a new report: New data on household food insecurity in 2022, stating: 

 

“There is a strong body of evidence showing that food insecurity can be reduced through policy interventions that improve the incomes of low-income households.”

And;

”Reducing household food insecurity requires the commitment of public revenue and resources to ensure that income supports for low-income, working-aged Canadians and their families are adequate, secure, and responsive to changing costs of living, irrespective of their income source.” 

Ideally, ODSP should be covering the costs of food in the same way they cover the cost of medications because both are used to treat chronic diseases. 

The successful execution and delivery of the Fresh Food Weekly program over the last 20 months has demonstrated that Fresh Food Weekly’s operating model is sound and could be used as the blueprint for designing the food procurement and delivery processes for the proposed Research Study.

 

Studying the impacts of food security on the healthcare system through a Research Study will produce the knowledge utilization data needed to determine if a nutrition-based intervention program should be categorized as a ‘medically necessary service’ to be covered under health care insurance. 

Despite the Study’s merit and need, no regional funder is interested, although there's ample labour support from doctors. 

The next steps are finding someone who wants to fund this Research Study. 

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The VanDyck Foundation

Charitable Registration Number: 77364 5148 RR0001

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Thank you

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for being a proud sponsor of Fresh Food Weekly!

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