The Kanata Food Cupboard announced a new initiative aimed to give people in the community more choice when it comes to the help they receive.
The Fresh Food Revolution and grocery store concept, launched at the cupboard’s location at 20 Young Rd. on Thursday, Nov. 22, gives clients the chance to choose their own produce and food items for their families.
“I think it gives them a little more dignity,” said Karen Waters, client co-ordinator at the food cupboard.
People will be able to make their selection based on their own needs, food restrictions and preferences instead of being given a predetermined hamper of food items.
“The clients are overwhelmed with it,” said Waters.
She said the feedback has been “all positive” since the cupboard implemented the Fresh Food Revolution earlier this fall.
Jenna Sudds, who sits on the food cupboard’s board of directors, came across the idea after seeing a similar initiative launched in Toronto and then in Perth.
“We visited Perth, saw what they were doing, tweaked it...and flew with it,” she said.
Clients are given around 15 minutes and a grocery cart, along with a suggested list of food items, and can cruise the shelves of the cupboard’s Young Road location.
They can then “choose items that best suit their families,” said Sudds.
The food will last a family around six days, she said, adding clients can visit the grocery store location every 30 days.
The food cupboard is set to launch the second phase of the Fresh Food Revolution in the new year, which will offer fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh milk and meat products.
“It’ll just give them more healthier choices,” said Waters.
Dr. Isra Levy, medical officer of health, and Kanata North Coun. Marianne Wilkinson took part in a grocery cart challenge during the launch. They were given a list of suggested items for a family of five and spent 15 minutes choosing items from the cupboard’s shelves.
“People can have the dignity to choose for themselves,” said Levy. “It’s not just food; it’s also the notion of nutritious food ... being provided with options.”
Ottawa public health’s Community Food Advisors were also on hand and demonstrated how to make easy and nutritious meals with items found on the food bank’s shelves, such as mixed bean salad.
Levy said the Fresh Food Revolution gives people more of a balanced diet.
“(People) can actually come and get fresh produce and recipes,” he said. “It’s really a complete package.”
He said it costs a minimum of $745 a month to feed a family of four with healthy choices, something that is difficult for many to afford.
“People in our community struggle to make ends meet; they might be our neighbours” he said. “Donations are what helps organizations like this ... It lets people know they’re not alone and know there’s a place to go.”
He added the Fresh Food Revolution “really is a package that’s a fundamental part of a healthy community.”
The Kanata Food Cupboard helps around 200 families every month and distributes 113,000 kilograms of food each year.