Eden Food for Change’s fresh box
My friends Rohit and Adhelly, with Rohit being an extremely active member of the Mississauga community, told me about this program when I went to their Mexican Independence Day party.
My relationship with our local food bank Eden Food for Change started many years ago, when my family was just starting out in Canada after immigrating from the Philippines. My mom was working a low-paying job while searching for employment as an accountant in her field. For some time, my dad was back home tying up loose ends. We were five hungry brothers and sisters and money was tight.
Our family qualified to receive free food from the food bank to supplement our groceries. While you may think that all we ever got was old canned goods, it was nothing like that at all. We even got delicious fresh pastries from local bakery donations! Here are examples of what you can get. Though I think we only ever got food there a couple of times, I felt little ashamed then that we had resorted to that. But I shouldn’t have. Food is one of our number one necessities and there are people out there to help you get it on your family’s table.
Anyway, fast forward to a few years later when my mom donated several $25 supermarket gift cards to the food bank for Christmas to give back to them for helping our family. I was still in university then and remembered feeling so happy that she did that now that our family was now established and she was working in her field.
Aside from the food bank, Eden Food for Change, whose motto is “Good Food for All!”, also offers the general public (i.e., you don’t have to be a food bank recipient) fresh produce boxes for purchase. In brief here’s how this program works:
Each week we scour the Ontario Food Terminal to purchase fresh produce from local farmers and food distributors. Then, our Kitchen volunteers create each box with a variety of fruit and veggies so we can sell them to you for our cost.
Make sure to place your order by 4 pm on Thursday and bring your cash when you pick up your order on Friday. Then make sure you eat your fruit and veggies every day. GOOD FOOD FOR ALL!
A $10 fresh box apparently costs $17 to $20, and a $20 box retails for around $30.
According to this blog, Eden’s Community Engagement Coordinator Christina Philips says, “All of the items for the Fresh Produce Box program are bought specifically for those who have ordered. However, our Warehouse Supervisor goes down to the Ontario Food Terminal later and asks for produce donations for our food bank.”
How it works:
- Use the order form on their website to place your order ($10 or $20 box), every week before Thursday at 4 pm. This is so they know how many boxes they need to purchase fruits and vegetables for from the Ontario Food Terminal. In fact, this is the second largest food terminal in North America. And seeing it off the QEW is enough to make you believe it.
- They have 5 times and locations in Mississauga for you to choose where you pick up your order from every Friday:
- 2-3185 Unity Drive (Pick-up between noon to 4 pm)
- 3570 Colonial Drive (6:15 pm to 8 pm)
- 4 Caroline Street (4 pm to 7 pm)
- 3535 South Common Court (5 pm to 7:30 pm)
- 2225 Erin Mills Parkway – Sheridan Centre (5:30 pm to 8:30 pm)
- You will receive a confirmation email to the email address you entered. If there are changes email email@example.com.
- If you order after 4 pm on Thursday, you will still receive a confirmation email – unfortunately, they will NOT be able to fill your order for the following day. Sorry.
- Pick-up your order on the day, time and at the location you selected.
- Please bring cash to pay and bags to take your produce home with you.
- Repeat the steps the following week or whenever you need the fresh box.
My first order
Okay, so I was super thrilled with this. After trying Front Door Organics, I wanted to see what else was out there in terms of pre-packaged produce boxes! So I followed the instructions exactly and placed my order online on a Monday, well before the Thursday deadline. But I never received an email confirming my order.
I couldn’t remember if I actually pressed the submit button or whatever. (Hey, don’t laugh, but this actually happened to me when I filed my INCOME TAXES, of all things. Luckily I didn’t owe the government anything and was able to file my taxes late without penalty and receive my refund promptly.) I called their office several times but always got voicemail. I even went so far as to go to their office (a 30-minute walk from my house) to ask if they got my order but no one was there (on the flip side, I got some free bread LOL).
With the Friday pickup day looming, I was pretty sad that I didn’t get that confirmation email but still went to my pickup location… WHICH WAS LITERALLY THE APARTMENT BUILDING RIGHT NEXT TO MY HOUSE. It couldn’t have been more convenient. I just hoped that some people wouldn’t pick up their fresh box (that’s expected, right?) so that I could just buy theirs. For some reason, my order did go through and it was waiting for me there. I told the volunteers about the website/order form issue and they told me that they would check it out.
What I actually got
As you can see, contents are mainly staple fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, tomatoes, and onions. This would be great for a single person or even a couple.
The purple plums were AWESOME. I ate half of them that night I got the fresh box. And the rest the next day. Hehe.
What I made
Using the apples from the fresh box and the free bread I got from visiting the food bank to ask if they got my order, I made a different sort of bread pudding. I even made apple sauce from scratch for this recipe! Here’s the recipe for this unique apple cinnamon bread pudding.
The real deal?
So was this too good to be true? Fresh Ontario fruits and vegetables available at a discount? Literally right next door to my house? My enthusiasm for this program wasn’t met without reservations from some skeptics, so I sought some answers to a few interesting questions this program raises.
Check back with me soon for Part 3, a more in-depth analysis of Eden’s Fresh Produce Box program!
Supported by United Way and the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Eden Food for Change is located at Unit 2, 3185 Unity Drive, Mississauga, Ontario L5L 4L5. Aside from this Fresh Produce box program available to everyone, they help those in need through their long-established food bank and new cooking classes.