CHEK Upside: Cowichan non-profit fundraising for food programs


In the heart of downtown Duncan lies a grocery store that’s like no other in the Cowichan Valley.

Refresh Cowichan marketplace is a store aimed at both cutting down on food waste and making sure that everyone in Duncan has the opportunity to purchase fresh local products.

“The Refresh Marketplace is supposed to be an inclusive grocery store,” says Refresh Marketplace manager Julika Pape.

“We have a really welcoming atmosphere and we serve a lot of the lower-income population here in Duncan.”

The Marketplace is part of the Cowichan Green Community Society, a non-profit organization working to improve local food security.

“We have two farm locations…..we also have our Kin Park youth urban farm where it’s teaching youth how to grow food and live sustainably,” says CGC program manager Alyssa Krawchuk.

“We of course have our food recovery program where we’ve got all this amazing food that we can get out to people who need it the most.”

A big part of both the society and the marketplace is the refresh coupon program, which was launched as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We currently support 120 individuals, families, seniors on the program and they can come and shop for $25 a week in the Refresh Marketplace,” says Pape.

“They can choose whatever they want to purchase in the store.”

“It gives people access to yummy and good and affordable nutrition and that’s just been a lifesaver,” says program participant Ava Klepsch.

To keep the coupon program rolling, the society has launched the Feeding Our Community online silent auction in conjunction with its Virtual Donor Breakfast in an effort to raise $160,000.

“So far we are week one through that two-week online auction on 32 Auctions [and] at the moment we’ve raised $3,000,” says Krawchuk.

“All proceeds from that auction is going to go directly into feeding people.”

The silent auction ends on February 15th. To make a bid visit the Feeding Our Community auction page.


Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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