Although it may not be the chain grocery store many are hoping for, residents in the east end of Guelph will soon get a degree of relief for the lack of access to fresh produce available for sale in that part of the city.
The Community Food Markets began downtown in July as a once-a-week pop-up concept aimed at making healthy food as accessible as possible for everyone, said organizer Rebecca Clayton.
It sells 40 to 45 kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables on a sliding scale to meet the affordability needs of as many people as possible.
“So people can come through the market, choose what they want and when they check out they get a total — they can choose to pay the low end, the high end or anywhere in between,” said Clayton.
The low end of the scale is typically between 30 to 50 per cent below retail price and the upper end of the scale is similar to what one would pay at market value, said Clayton.
Integral to the concept is participation of people from all incomes to shop together at the same time.
“The people who choose to pay on the mid to upper end of the scale are subsidizing the cost for the people who need to take the lower end and need a hand,” said Clayton.
The downtown market operates every Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Guelph Community Health Centre at 176 Wyndham St. N.
Starting Wednesday of next week, the concept will pop up one day a week in the city’s east end — which Clayton called a ‘food desert’.
“There is no grocery store in the east end. If you have a car it might not be such a big deal, but for community members who dont — they usually have to take two buses to get to a grocery store and it can be really challenging to get there every week to get your fresh food,” said Clayton.
The east end market will operate out of Grange Hill East Neighbourhood Group’s space at Ken Danby Public School. It will operate from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday.
“When people are coming to get their kids, hopefully they can pop in and get some fresh food,” said Clayton.
The fruits and vegetables offered at the market come from a number of sources, including local farms, the Guelph Youth Farm, various organic distributors and the Toronto Food Termina.l
The markets are run through the GCHC’s SEED program, a community food project with various elements aimed at using food to help build a healthy community and address the underlying issues of food insecurity and poverty in Guelph.
“Our mission is working toward a community with no barriers when it comes to access to healthy food. We are trying to do work in food access, food advocacy and food literacy. All three intertwine together,” said Clayton.