A weekly market that distributes free fresh fruits and vegetables to people in need is trying a new funding model, asking businesses and individuals to sponsor a full week’s worth of food through its new Adopt-a-Week program.
The North End Harvest Market is operated every Wednesday evening from donated space in a portable at Waverley Drive Public School.
The market was started four years ago with a $30,000 grant by Guelph United Ministries. That funding lasted less than a year before the market began looking for other sources to support it, said founder Barb McPhee.
“We keep writing grants and doing fund raisers. We are trying to look for one that will sustain us,” said McPhee.
Their newest idea for funding is to ask corporations or individuals to sponsor one week’s worth of food, at a cost of $600.
The market sent out pilot letters for the new funding model and so far have had one positive response.
"We just received our first cheque for $600. What makes that exciting is they are a Guelph company,” said McPhee. "It all fits around the community feel. We are hoping this will help to boost the other bigger companies.”
The market is hosting a launch party for the Adopt-a-Week program on July 19 at Manhattan’s on Gordon Street, where officials from ABS Brakes are expected to present a cheque for the first sponsorship.
McPhee said she hopes individuals and companies that sponsor a family during Christmas time with other local charities may consider sponsoring a week to help dozens of families.
In total, an estimated 250 people are fed each week through the efforts of the market.
The market currently spends about $550 on food each week, up from the $500 per week it spent when it launched. McPhee said the new $600 goal is necessary to address the need.
“What we need to do now because of the lower budget, we can't offer everybody everything,” said McPhee.
A family may have to choose between a head of lettuce and a cabbage, McPhee said as an example.
"What we are hoping is, with a boost in budget we will be able to give one of everything,” she said.
McPhee said many who use the market are new Canadians and may not be familiar with some of the produce, but sometimes those people teach the people running the market new ways to prepare those food items.
"A lot of people will bring in samples of what they cooked so we can taste it and they can tell us how they did it. It's quite interesting," said McPhee.
The North End Harvest Market operates every Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. until the food runs out, usually around 7:10 p.m. People who use the market can come every other week.