Student association launches fresh fruit and vegetable program

Harvest Box initiative to be subsidized by MultiPass fee.

By Sasha Mann
[associate news editor]

The Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) is ready to roll out a new Harvest Box program, which aims to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to students at a reduced price.

The KSA council allocated $25,000 at its February meeting towards the cost of the Harvest Boxes. The KSA plans to  subsidize $5 off each order, according to their website. The money will come directly from MultiPass fees.

There will be three categories of boxes available: value, local and buy-one-give-one (BOGO). Value boxes will be $5 and local boxes will be twice that much, but will come from more sustainable sources. If students buy a BOGO box for $10, they will receive a value box and a second box will be given to a B.C. family in need.

According to their website, Harvest Box has been running for more than 15 years, and operates all over Metro Vancouver. Simon Fraser University and BCIT also participate in the program. Sponsors of Harvest Box include the City of Surrey, the City of Langley, as well as two Christian churches.

Christopher Girodat, the KSA’s director of student services, has pushed for the adoption of the boxes.

“We know that students tend to have the moniker ‘starving students’,” Girodat said in an interview with The Runner, “and so we wanted to give them an opportunity to get fresh produce for a lot cheaper than they could get otherwise and in a way that was really convenient for them.”

Girodat says that the last part of this semester and the summer semester will serve as a pilot period for the Harvest Box program, to make sure it catches on with students and that the practical elements are sorted out.

The program has received some mild criticism for not promising any organic options. This includes the local box, which is described as fresh produce grown using “sustainable agricultural methods.” The food from the value box doesn’t promise being local or organic, but tries to be “as local as possible.”

“It’s organic and local as much as it can,” Girodat said.” “So depending on what time of year, if it’s not available then they’re going to be importing vegetables.”

Richard Hosein, leader of the sustainability policy studies group at Kwantlen and the electes KSA representative for students of colour, questioned the lack of organic options, at the Februay KSA council meeting.

He thinks the Harvest Box is a great idea and understands the price concern that organic food represents, but still wants a more sustainable choice.

“I would like to see it eventually, at some point get a step taken a bit further, and have organic options available,” Hosein told The Runner.

He has plans beyond just organic. With sustainable agriculture and horticulture programs at Kwantlen, why not have those students produce some of the food? Hosein sees this as the best way to get cheap organic produce. He also envisions involving graduates in the production of food for his theoretical extra-local Harvest Box, and paying them for their work.

Putting aside dreams for the future, the Harvest Box program still needs to be launched and have student support before further additions to it are realized.

Girodat says the KSA will be marketing the program through whatever means it has. That means more than just posters.

“We’re going to be mentioning it at the next installment of our student services newsletter, which is also going out through the email listserv; social media; the intramurals website. So sort of using whatever communications mediums we have available to us,” Girodat said.

When discount cards were introduced in October, a program that Girodat also led, students told The Runner they wanted cheaper groceries to be included on the cards.

Five months later, Kwantlen students will get exactly that. But it remains to be seen how many students will actually use the service they said they wanted.

The deadline for Harvest Box orders will be the first and second-to-last Thursday of every month. Pickup will be the second and last Thursday. The first batch of box orders will be received March 21, and the food will be delivered a week later. Orders can be made online or in person at KSA offices.


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