We had the pleasure of interviewing Joline Beauregard of Sunrise Nutrition, a team of Registered Dietitians in Whitehorse, Yukon, and are delighted to share it with you! They promote life-long health by supporting people and communities to build healthy relationships with food through nutrition counseling, food-based programming, and innovative food systems. The Sunrise Nutrition team is committed to collaborating with community programs & groups to increase access to nutrition education, and food, across the Yukon. We talked about Joline’s profession as a nutritionist, how she runs Sunrise Nutrition, what they’re most proud of, and a lot more. We hope you are as inspired by their work and their approach as we are.
1) Tell me about Sunrise Nutrition, and what do you do?
I started Sunrise Nutrition part-time in March 2020. The first question I got was “Is it a COVID-19 business?” No, I did not know that COVID-19 will happen beforehand. I started with one contract, supporting the healthy babies healthy futures programs in the Yukon, and one of their programs throughout covid is to find innovative ways to get nutrition to mommies and babies because we can’t gather anymore. I started in 2020, and a year ago today, I gave my notice at my full-time job. I was working with continuing care and long-term care, and I was ready to move on to something new and challenging. My business was picking up, but mostly I was just enjoying it and it was something I wanted to do.
I gave my notice and have been doing this full-time since last year, and it’s been amazing; it’s a lot newer and different than what I expected. But Yukonstruct has been a huge help for my business and just being in the Yukon in general. We’re so lucky here that if you want to if you’re willing to take some risks and put the word out there, it will be amazing. Yukonstruct and Yukon University have been enormously helpful in supporting people. I also believe that the entrepreneur community is very welcoming and helpful, as well as open to collaboration and sharing experiences. Because people’s willingness to share their stories teaches you so much.
2) You had the opportunity to be on one of the panels at the Startup Canada Tour 2023 in Whitehorse, which was where the Grocery Box information was revealed. Can you tell us more about the idea behind your new product, Grocery Boxes?
Since I have an experience with food security, I believe it is essential to provide people with nutritious food. Like, I firmly believe that access to food is a human right and should be available to everybody. We considered various options in the Yukon because of how difficult financial circumstances were for many people in 2022, as well as the high cost of groceries and other items. I firmly believe that many people struggle with money and food purchases, so we should consider alternative solutions.
There was a program in Ontario that started with grocery boxes. They are basically doing what I am doing. They are not for profit. There is a great demand, and it is difficult to prepare for one person while doing food shopping. We have a huge aging population and many people who prefer to spend their time at home. One aspect of care that is absent is the possibility for them to do delivery.
3) What are some of the benefits of using Grocery Boxes?
I’ve been providing nutrition counseling in the Yukon for 5 years, and I’ve also conducted a number of surveys of Yukoners to find out what foods and eating habits work best for them. By far from surveys and just talking to people, there are two challenges, and it’s one or the other, often not both, budget or time. Grocery boxes will save you time in grocery shopping and meal planning, as well as money by allowing you to purchase staple foods like carrots, potatoes, and onions, which people use all the time, at reduced prices. It will also help individuals in reducing food waste.
4) Can you walk us through the process of ordering and receiving a Grocery Box?
Our program is carried out on a weekly basis. People order by Thursday every week, so I know how many boxes I need to make. On Thursday, I place orders for fruits and vegetables. They will be delivered the following Monday, and I will be able to make the boxes. Tuesday is the day for pick-up and delivery. People can either pick up at Normandy Living through collaboration or have it delivered through a partnership with a small delivery company.
5) How do you determine what items are included in each box?
It is based on costs and their usage in a household. It will change based on seasonality and availability.
6) Are the boxes customizable for customers with dietary restrictions or preferences?
They are not at the moment. What we’re doing at pick up is that if there are items that individuals don’t want, they may leave them and they will be donated. On the website, you can also give a grocery box to individuals who cannot afford it. We’re collaborating with the Food Security Network and the Whitehorse Food Bank to get those excess donated foods to folks who can’t afford them. We currently offer bread and cheese to add to the boxes as add-ons. We will be adding Gluten Free and Lactose-Free options. We’re still working on the mechanics of better storing the products.
7) How do you see this product evolving in the future?
Meal kits! Meal kits will complement the grocery boxes by providing customers with ideas for what to make for their meals. We will also have downloadable tools such as meal prep templates, recipes, and so on. There is a lot more to come, so keep checking back for updates!
8) How has customer feedback been so far?
People are thrilled at the delivery. The first box I delivered was in Porter Creek. They have a sign out front that says “Nutrition Box Here!” and she was a single mother. It was a game changer because it reduced the need for her to bring her child to the grocery shop.
9) Are there any plans to expand the delivery area for Nourish Grocery Boxes beyond its current service area?
We are having a collaboration with Whitehorse Food Bank and Food Security Network to aim to bring the service to the community. As a result, ideas like community delivery are in the works. It is difficult to locate someone in the community who will be in charge of receiving and distributing the goods. However, there is a greater need than in Whitehorse because there are no grocery stores nearby.
10) How does Sunrise Nutrition continue to stay up-to-date with the latest nutrition research and trends?
To be honest, I value having a solid support network and dietician colleagues in the same way as I value entrepreneurship. And we’re fortunate in the North to have some very outstanding associations for dieticians that do, sponsor, and make nutrition resources available. As a dietician, it is critical that I follow science-based medicine practices. So it’s definitely a good part of it. I truly enjoy what I do, and I enjoy being a dietitian and learning about nutrition. And the more I learn, the more I want to know. I learned about disordered eating and helping mothers and newborns, and making myself a nerd about these topics will help me learn more about them.
11) Can you share any tips for someone who is just starting to explore a healthy diet and lifestyle?
If I were to give people one piece of nutrition advice in general, it would probably be that you don’t have to worry about what you eat as much as people think you do. I believe there is a lot of focus, especially because nutrition is so clearly defined in diet and wellness culture, and there is a lot of information out there, such as when should I stop eating something in the evening? At the end of the day, it is the overall that contributes to our health, not the individual instances. And I believe that eating frequently enough is something that many individuals do not prioritize. Prioritize eating a variety of foods on a regular basis before prioritizing anything else. Just don’t make it any more difficult than that. Simply eat a variety of foods on a regular basis. And this will boost your energy levels, balance your hormones, and improve your overall health.
12) Is there anything else that you want us and the readers to know?
Just stay tuned! The next month, there will be some exciting things happening. The next 6 months will be a little bit unknown and a little bit of opportunities so stay tuned and reach out if there is anything you want to collaborate on because I am very open to collaboration!
Thank you so much for chatting with us, Joline!