“Happy Things” Come in Small Packages

At Food for Life, we’re always thinking about the big picture — envisioning a future where everyone in Halton and Hamilton has access to healthy food. However, we know for many of our friends and neighbours, the small things can matter most.

Over the past 25 years, we’ve launched initiatives big and small. One of our tiniest programs, which made a huge impact, was delivering free mini-good food boxes to seniors across Halton, and Mississauga. The program started from our work with the Provincial Local Health Network and Allied Health Partners who coordinate meals at home and meals on wheels programs. Food security among seniors is especially important as residents 65 years old and older are now the fastest-growing age group in Halton.

“The idea was it was three to four pounds of food in this box. So, we’re talking little!” says Donna Slater, Director of Programs and Community Partnerships at Food for Life. Given each person has individual abilities all food needed to be accessible so “A lot of times it was small potatoes, small bags of carrots, cherry tomatoes, and even small cucumbers, so it was easy to eat or easy to cook with.” Boxes were distributed across Mississauga, Milton, Georgetown, and Acton, and were packed by our volunteers at the Food for Life warehouse. They were delivered to seniors through our community partners, including with Eden Food for Change, Meals on Wheels, and Links2Care.

“Instead of seniors going to grab a cookie or a piece of toast, they actually have some food items to either snack on or very easily cook with,”

Donna Slater

“Instead of seniors going to grab a cookie or a piece of toast, they actually have some food items to either snack on or very easily cook with,” says Slater, adding that one of the most important aspects of the initiative was how much seniors looked forward to receiving them.

“It would be different each week,” says Slater. “They would always look forward to seeing what was in there that they would be able to eat or cook with.”

To spread an extra bit of cheer, volunteers decorated the boxes with drawings and stickers. “On Valentine’s Day, we’d put hearts on the box. On St. Patrick’s Day, it was clovers,” says Slater. “It was a fun, different initiative that we were able to engage volunteers with!”

Currently halted during Covid-19, Slater hopes that the program will begin again in the future. Recently, she’s heard that seniors who accessed the program through Links2Care had affectionately dubbed the tiny packages “happy boxes.”

“It was so little, but for them, it was all they needed,” says Slater, calling the initiative a “fun, new way to reach out to seniors.”

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