Linda Suttle, from left, support worker, Emily Roy, Good Food Program coordinator, Frank Gregorcic, volunteer, Terry Manners, volunteer, Kyle Butterworth, volunteer and Amber McLaughlin, Good Food Program manager, at the Good Food Market in front of the Porcupine United Church on Wednesday. The program increases access to fresh food in “food deserts” areas of Timmins where fresh food is more than a five-minute walk away. The next market will be Nov. 9 at the Native Friendship Centre from noon to 2 p.m. NICOLE STOFFMAN/The Daily Press jpg, TD Article content
The Anti-Hunger Coalition’s Good Food Market was open for business in front of the Porcupine United Church on Wednesday.
The market’s mission is to increase access to higher quality produce at affordable prices.
They were offering leafy greens grown hydroponically indoors by Borealis Fresh Farms, and also had local produce from Graham Acres such as sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash. Both were being sold at lower prices than retail outlets.
Locavores should know that Borealis Fresh Farms produce is available year-round, and Graham Acres produce is available until February or March at the Good Food Market.
Offerings were rounded out with other produce items donated at cost from Foodland. Metro and Pick of the Crop are other local grocers who supply the market.
“So, you’re not sacrificing the quality for the cost,” said Amber McLaughlin, Good Food Program manager with the Anti-Hunger Coalition.
She stressed that the market is for anyone. The more people support the program, the more it can grow and thrive, she said.
The markets take place the first, second and third Wednesday of the month from noon to 2 p.m., in “food deserts” or by invitation from a community organization.
A food desert is an area of town where people can’t access fresh produce within a five-minute walk, McLaughlin explained.
Though the Timmins Native Friendship Centre is a short walk to Food Basics, the Good Food Market was invited to set up there because so many in the community asked for it.
“When we did our initial survey, (the centre) was the most commonly suggested location,” said McLaughlin. “It’s closer to the amenities they’re usually using. It’s easier for them to stop in when they’re already in that part of town. Maybe they’re clients doing programming at the friendship centre.”
The Anti-Hunger Coalition was established in 2007 to take a coordinated approach to food insecurity in Timmins. For example, they publish a community food calendar that includes all of the free meal and grocery programs available seven days a week in Timmins.
Their many programs aim to promote the access, education and skills required to eat well. Their vision is for a Timmins that is food secure. Until such time, food banks will remain a part of that solution.
“Food banks were initially created as a band-aid solution, but they’ve ended up becoming something that is more than just a band-aid solution,” McLaughlin said.
Throughout the pandemic the Anti-Hunger Coalition partnered with the Porcupine Food Bank to provide emergency food hampers for those with mobility issues.
The Coalition’s Good Food Box program offers large and small boxes of fresh produce for delivery at a 20 to 30 per cent savings compared to retail. The boxes are available to the general public, but the coalition will also supply the Porcupine Food Bank or First Baptist Church with boxes if the funding is available, and the food bank also sometimes buys boxes for their clients.
“For us to be able to provide them with fresh produce is a thousand times healthier for individuals who are accessing food banks,” said McLaughlin, adding that the First Baptist Church will also use the produce for their meal program.
Any produce from the Good Food Market that is not sold is donated to community meal programs, added Emely Roy, Good Food Program coordinator.
“Part of our mission is not to let food go to waste,” she said.
The Anti-Hunger Coalition’s budget tripled in size during the pandemic from a 2019 operating budget in 154,000 in 2019 to 467,000 in 2020. They were able to access municipal, provincial and federal funding to provide help to the community and allowed them to hire more staff to run their programs.
“We had a lot of funding that went back out to food banks and meal programs in Timmins that may have needed some support in some way,” said McLaughlin.
They also accessed support through Community Food Centres Canada.
The Good Food Market is considered a grocer and was therefore allowed to continue running during the pandemic.
The next two markets will be on Nov. 9 at the Timmins Native Friendship Centre, and Nov. 23 at the Croatian Hall in Schumacher. Both markets run from noon to 2 p.m. For details follow Anti-Hunger Coalition Timmins on Facebook.