MNO Partners in Food Box Program in Fort Frances

Food_box_programMembers of the Sunset Country Métis Council, one of the partners in the 
Food Box Program

Adapted from article by
Duane Hicks, in the
Fort Frances Times On-line

Click on the following link to view the original article:
http://fftimes.com/node/246012

For the fifth year in a row, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) is involved in a community-based “Healthy Living Food Box” program, in Fort Frances.  The MNO’s partners in the program include the Ontario government, Northwestern Health Unit, the Sunset Country Métis Council, Valley Diabetes Education Centre and the Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre.

Based out of the Sunset Country Métis Council Hall, the program brings together dozens of volunteers each month to sort healthy [and, to the extent possible, locally-grown] fruits and vegetables into colourful ‘food boxes’ to be sold at affordable rates to local residents. The program provides nutritious food for hundreds of people who utilize the program.  It’s open to everyone, regardless of race, income, or residence [in town, on reserve, or out in the country]. Many of the clients have friendly ‘stop-and-chats’ with the staff and volunteers while picking up their food boxes. There is a real sense of community spirit. While the program is open to all Fort Frances area residents, Armstrong estimates that approximately 25% or more of the clients are of aboriginal descent.

“The volunteers are amazing,” said Anne Marie Armstrong with the MNO, noting the volunteers really enjoy themselves while working on the program. She even cites one former volunteer who no longer is able to help out but still makes muffins for the other volunteers who continue to participate.  Clint Calder, President of the Sunset Country Métis Council, said the program is much-appreciated: Thanks to the many, many volunteers who help to bring affordable, healthy foods to our communities,” he said

In the summer, an average of 330-350 boxes is ordered each month, but this number climbs to 450-500 in wintertime. One month, volunteers packed 860 boxes. Each box costs $20 but contains about $40 worth of healthy food. Armstrong noted that very little of that $20 goes into administrative costs. Each box also includes a newsletter featuring recipes.

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