Elise Stolte: Cheap, wholesome meals touchdown in Edmonton’s meals wasteland this fall

Links to the breadcrumb trail

Author of the article:

Elise Stolte Fresh Routes Calgary brings cheap fruits and vegetables to the food deserts.  They hope to launch in five or six locations in Edmonton in September. Fresh Routes Calgary brings cheap fruits and vegetables to the food deserts. They hope to launch in five or six locations in Edmonton in September. Delivered

Article content

Some Edmonton residents are unable to come to the grocery store. Instead, the grocery store comes to them.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

I’m not talking about Shop and Click. These are honest to goodness, pick your apples from the cart shops that sell products at a lot less than supermarket prices. It is a mobile grocery store run as a social enterprise to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to the heart of the Edmonton food deserts.

It’s a concept that has already been launched in Calgary.

Fresh Routes Calgary was founded a year ago. It now transports vegetables to 60 different locations and works with H&W Produce, Prairie Mill Bread, and the Italian Center to offer each bread from the previous day and affordable healthy food.

They have settled near retirement homes, affordable housing complexes, and near low-income neighborhoods with no grocery store within walking distance. They saw a lot of demand, says co-founder Lourdes Juan. There is a waiting list of municipalities who would like to register. They work with local community ambassadors to promote the market and add a social component to the weekly meeting.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Here in Edmonton, local organizers have worked with the City of Edmonton to select five or six locations initially and hope to start in September. You are now collecting donations for the $ 60,000 refrigerator truck.

I think it’s such a fascinating concept. It addresses three different issues: how traditional urban planning limits access to healthy food, the high cost of food for low-income families, and the challenge of social isolation.

When it comes to urban planning, Edmonton faces many of the same challenges as Calgary. For decades, developers thought that building strong neighborhoods meant separating uses. They are storing all stores, groceries and retail in an energy hub along a major artery, rather than embedding services where people live.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

This works fine as long as you can drive. Lots of people can’t.

When researchers at the University of Alberta looked into the problem in 2005, they found eight quarters within a kilometer of no grocery store. These are great food deserts. Smaller ones exist because many people can’t walk a mile to eat, and in some parts of the city, grocery stores have legal reservations on land after they closed to ensure no one can ever open a grocery store there again.

“The failures of the past are really catching up with us,” says Juan, who comes from urban planning. Juan hopes these mobile markets will help usher in a new way of planning. Without access to grocery stores, many people rely on canned food from dollar and convenience stores.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The cellular market is also a new way to fight poverty. It’s not a charity. It is not about giving food to the poor, although it is likely to still be necessary in emergencies. This is more of a hand up, with choice and dignity. It also doesn’t rely on unpredictable grants or donations for long-term operations. It is a social enterprise, a company focused on delivering a social good that reinvests profits into growth.

Fresh Routes Calgary brings cheap fruits and vegetables to this city's food deserts. Fresh Routes Calgary brings cheap fruits and vegetables to this city’s food deserts. Delivered

Because it is based on wholesale prices, requires some voluntary effort, and has minimal overhead costs, the food can be 30 to 60 percent cheaper than the market price. The average bill for the Calgary truck is just under $ 10, which delivers fruit and vegetables for one or two people for a week.

No income test is required for shopping. In fact, the organizers encourage anyone who wants to support better access to food to come out. The increased sales volume gives them even better access to wholesale suppliers, says Morgan Allen, Edmonton-based organizer of the University of Alberta’s Community-University Partnership. “We want everyone to feel that they can come out.”

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

That accomplishes the third goal – reducing social isolation. Since these are weekly markets that only take place for a few hours at each location, the organizers hope that the customers will get to know each other. They also connect with local partners to see what programming is possible.

They’d love to work with community kitchens, and in Calgary, some community leagues and neighborhood groups are setting up tables to share news about the programs they offer. One website has a nutritionist. Inviting a street musician and setting up tables can help create a farmers market or festival atmosphere.

It is clear that many details are still being worked out. But it looks like a nice opportunity, a cornerstone that could develop into something very special.

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

We needed a new approach to food deserts, something more affordable than the trendy goodies popular in farmers markets. We need the full range of price points and options, and the fact that these markets will be open to everyone is refreshing. Edmonton residents can easily support the community and healthy food options for their neighbors by just getting out and spending a few dollars.

[email protected]

twitter.com/estolte

Related

Share this article on your social network

advertising

This ad hasn’t loaded yet, but your article continues below.

By clicking the registration button, you agree to receive the above newsletter from Postmedia Network Inc. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of our emails. Postmedia Network Inc. | 365 Bloor Street East, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3L4 | 416-383-2300

Comments

Postmedia advocates a lively but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their thoughts on our articles. It can take up to an hour for comments to be moderated before they appear on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We turned email notifications on – you will now receive an email when you’ve received a reply to your comment, there’s an update on a comment thread you’re following, or when a user you follow follows comments . Check out our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to customize your email settings.

Comments are closed.