A program designed to make it easier for Ottawa residents to access healthy, affordable foods has expanded into more neighbourhoods this summer. The organizers of Good Food Markets purchase fruits, vegetables, and dried staple goods at wholesale prices and sell them to the community at or near cost.
While Ottawa has numerous farmers’ markets, few are convenient or affordable for people with lower incomes. Good Food Markets allow a wider swath of Ottawa residents to enjoy the convivial atmosphere of a farmers’ market. Like many farmers’ markets, they offer entertainment and activities for kids, and let shoppers choose the fare that most appeals to them.
With many residents of low-income neighbourhoods not having convenient access to grocery stores, the Good Food Market organizers focused on serving parts of Ottawa where it’s difficult for residents to access fresh, healthy food. As well, by letting individuals choose their own food and by offering foods that are culturally specific to the neighbourhoods where the markets take place, the program represents a move away from the one-size-fits-all charity food dispensing model.
The program was launched last year as a pilot in four sites, with over 1,000 people attending the markets over the course of the summer. Thanks to this success, the program has expanded to six locations this year.
The produce sold at the markets is purchased from local farmers where possible, though making available affordable fresh food is more of a priority for the program than sourcing locally.
The program is supported by an $18,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Ottawa, a non-profit that pools charitable gifts from donors into an endowment that supports local initiatives. Other programs they’ve supported have included the Ottawa School Breakfast Program, iSisters, a program that helps unemployed or marginalized immigrant women improve their computer literacy, and the Great River Project, which documents the ecological and cultural heritage of the Ottawa River.
The Good Food Markets were started by the Poverty and Hunger Working Group, a coalition including representatives from the City of Ottawa as well as many local non-profits. The program relies on volunteers and is looking for extra help at the markets: check out the Good Food Market’s Facebook page for more information.
Upcoming Good Food Markets:
- Michele Heights Community House – August 17th from 10 am to 2 pm
- Overbrook Park – August 24th at 22 Quill Street from 11 am – 2 pm
- Nepean Rideau and Osgood Resource Centre and South Nepean Community Resource Centre – August 31st from 10 am and 12 pm
- Sandy Hill Community Health Centre – August 31st from 11 am to 2 pm
- Mechanicsville, Forward Ave. cul-de-sac – September 11th from 4 pm to 7 pm
- Nanny Goat Hill Community Garden – September 14th from 10 am to 1 pm