This is what “miijidaa” means in the Ojibway language and the Miijidaa Café and Bistro is where the North End Harvest Market recently re-launched its annual “Adopt-A-Week’ campaign.
The campaign, which is in it’s second year, invites local businesses, community groups friends and neighbourhoods to share their resources to help feed over 200 people who access the market every week.
“This began last year and it lasted 24 weeks during the summer,” says Barb McPhee, market manager with the North End Harvest Market.
“We thought it was a good idea for fundraising last year and so we thought we would try it again. We’ve had great feedback so far and the word is getting out. When people realize that this is for people in the community, they want to come on board.”
The North End Harvest Market is a collective of community organizations and friends housed in the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition which supports the idea of a free and fresh produce market for those in need.
In Guelph, 13.2 per cent of people experience food insecurity.
“About 65 per cent of the individuals who visit the market, are new to the country and often have large families with up to six or seven children,” McPhee says.
“I was raised in poverty and I raised my children in poverty. I know of the struggles and how difficult it is to get fresh produce. Now as a senior, I want to help make it easier for people.”
The cost to adopt a week is $600.
The monetary contribution covers the cost of food for an entire week and provides hundreds of community members access to fresh and healthy food.
Local businesses and organizations are invited to support a week of fresh food. Individuals, families, friends and neighbourhoods are also encouraged to come together and collectively sponsor a week.
According to McPhee, it’s a great way to work together, to connect and support an important cause.
And if a particular donor is unable to meet the $600 goal, there is no need to worry as all donations are welcome.
“The number of people registered varies from week to week. Registration is open to single individuals or to families,” McPhee said. “We just ask for names, address, and phone number. And that’s all. We figure if they come to the market, then they are hungry.”
The market takes place every Wednesday evening during the summer months.
“Waverly Public School in Guelph generously donated one of their portables - number 6 - so we can hold the market there every week,” McPhee said.
And this year, businesses, organizations and friends are asked to challenge others to support a week as well by using hashtag #AdoptAWeekChallenge
The market, now in it’s fifth year, continues to be dedicated in providing free, fresh food for those struggling to put food on their plates.
But the market is much more than that for McPhee.
It creates a community hub for connection.
“The market goes far beyond food distribution. It creates a place for advocacy, friendship, support and connections to community resources,” she says.
“People come to the market with a smile on their face They want to talk. They know they are in a great, kind place.”
The Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition (GNSC) is a network of neighbourhood groups, sponsoring agencies and program partners.
According to GNSC, each neighbourhood group operates in an autonomous way at the grass roots level to meet the needs of children, youth and families that have been identified within the neighbourhood.
Through the Coalition, the neighbourhood groups bring together their collective resources to share information, provide support, distribute available funding resources and advocate for community issues.
The organization says that the market has become a place for people to feel safe, to laugh and enjoy each others company in a non-judgmental, supporting, and diverse environment.
The North End Harvest Market is a program of the GNSC supported by a passionate and diverse team consisting of a Market Manager, Chalmers Community Services, Upper Grand District School Board, Guelph United Ministries, Trinity United Church, North Riverside Neighbourhood Group, Immigrant Services, the Guelph Family Health Team, and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Community.
The GNSC is a registered charity.
Donations to the Adopt-A-Week program can be made in person or on-line at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/guelph-neighbourhood-support-coalition.
For McPhee, it starts with a basic need, helping nourish the community.
“This has been such a great opportunity for us,” she says.
“We have such a great group of people making sure that everyone gets food. We have so much support from the community and we’re so thankful,” she said.
The Market is open Wednesday nights from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm at Waverley Drive School, 140 Waverley Drive, Guelph in portable #6.