Here at the Market & Smør we understand the importance of food security: the condition related to the supply of fresh food, and individuals' access to it. Food insecurity happens when there are a number of barriers to accessing that fresh food supply.
This topic has garnered research and discussion in both academia and media circles. One study in 2015 found that people in Ontario who struggle to afford healthy food end up costing the health-care system up to twice as much than those who do not struggle. Thus we feel that it is important to help ensure everyone in our community has access to healthy foods. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/food-insecurity-a-heavy-cost-on-ontarios-health-care-system-study/article25903266/
Food security is often more of a concern for those in lower economic situations, (https://www.ryerson.ca/foodsecurity/).We in Cobourg are fortunate enough to live in an area that has a beautiful mix of people who live in both lower- and higher-socio economic situations with many residing somewhere in between. We view this as an advantage as it creates diversity and opportunity for a vibrant and colourful mix of people that are needed to make a community such as Cobourg so wonderful.
Below are a few of the questions we ask ourselves as a management team. We think it's important to do so to help ensure our Market and the healthy food it serves is accessible to everyone in our awesome community no matter what the situation.
Many of the things we are taking into account at present are directly related to feedback we have received over the past 13 months in gathering input from the community and through our Market Meetings.
Access (Mobility/Capability): When setting the physical space up for The Market, we have to ask ourselves, who can get to it and who can not? How do people get to it? Can they physically move well enough to leave their space and come inside the Market? Can they carry their own grocery bags? Should we have a delivery service available? Is everyone physically able to cut up their own vegetables? Do we need to provide a “veggie butcher” service to ensure everyone has chopped veggies? What height do the shelves need to be at to ensure everyone can reach? How easy is it for families with children to grocery shop? What can we do to help make grocery shopping a less stressful outing for some parents?
Affordability: Can everyone afford the food that they and their families need? Many people who are on low- or fixed-income have food allergies and oftentimes, special diets are not easily affordable: how can we make our vegan and other special diet foods more affordable? How many dependents do people have in their home to feed? If they have children and do not have access healthy food, this directly links with children’s health and nutrition. Children who do not have access to a balanced and healthy diet find it harder to self-regulate, learn in school, tend to show more aggression, find social interactions more difficult to handle, the list goes on. The inability to access fresh food has a domino effect on the entire community.
Education: How can we create a kitchen that is able to have people come in and learn about food, the community, etc? Do people need help on learning how to cook healthy food for less? Do people know how to shop in season to reduce their grocery bills? How can we help teach community members how to cook on a budget using high-nutrient foods or how to make homemade baby food and store it properly?
Access: We are currently designing a store that provides ample room to move, with a variety of shelf and fridge heights as well as mobile order for those who may not have the time to shop in-store.
We have chosen to create a corner in the store where children are welcome to play while the parents do the shopping, have a smoothie or a drink and just take a moment. In addition, free fruit will be available to children to snack on under their parents supervision. We want to promote healthy options and understand that little ones just need a snack sometimes.
Affordability We believe that people, no matter their economic situation, should have dignity. We also know that sometimes it’s not always easy to see when someone is in need of a little extra help. This is why we have created the Community Token Program.
Anyone can come in and purchase a $2, $5 or $10 token that they can give to people who may not know where their next hot meal is coming from or maybe it’s just someone who needs a little bit of help. An example of what this might get someone is the following: $2 - Hot drink and a baked good. $5 - Hot drink and sandwich. $10 - Hot meal.
We do not question those who redeem the tokens. Not everyone is lucky enough to casually walk into a Market and get what they need and want. Let's spread the kindness.
Education: One program plan that we would like to grow into is helping people learn to cook healthy foods on a budget. For example, taking a low-cost protein like lentils and creating a simple and nutrient dense soup out of it in order to feed many or to freeze and have for later.
If you have any questions or comments about this information, we would love to hear from you. Send us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime!