The Cowichan Green Community is running a fundraising effort to support their reFRESH Cowichan coupon program.
The program gives a $25 coupon to their grocery store every week to low-income residents and seniors across the Cowichan Valley.
reFRESH Operations manager, Julika Pape says the program supports 120 people across the valley.
“The funding for this program has historically kind of been pieced together,” says Pape. “We did receive a lot of pandemic funding in the beginning – like emergency food funding – and it has been carried forward by donations, big and small. But the funds are being slowly drained.”
While their grocery store is open to the public, Pape says about half of their customers are on the coupon program. So the program is a mutually beneficial model for the non-profit.
“We are a bit different to other food programs because everybody who is on this program can come to our store and shop for whatever they’re interested in,” says Pape. “We like to call it a dignified shopping experience where people can take whatever they need without any kind of judgment […] We’ve heard from our participants that it’s invaluable to them.”
Their store is unique as the only grocery store in the downtown core, and also unique in how it gathers its stock. The reFRESH Cowichan food recovery program helps supply a lot of their produce
“We’re a social enterprise that recovers food that would usually go into the landfill and we divert it from the landfill and send it out to a whole bunch of different service providers in the Cowichan region,” says Pape. “A portion of the produce that we recover goes to our store.”
Pape says they’re running a soup fundraiser at their store on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 am until 2 pm. They will also be selling snacks at the Christmas Kick-Off in Downtown Duncan this Friday, and have put out their annual holiday call for donations to the program.
“We call it the Gift of Giving,” says Pape. “It’s basically an ask for people to donate in somebody else’s name and instead of gifting them something for Christmas, to gift them the certificate that they’ve donated to our organization.
If you’d like to donate, you can do so on their website, by phone at 250-748-8506, or at their store at 360 Duncan St. in the downtown core.