The name is different, but the mission is the same: the West End Food Hub Alliance just rebranded itself with the much catchier moniker Food4Good, as part of its ongoing efforts to address food insecurity within Edmonton’s west-end neighbourhoods.
Henry Motta, associate executive director for the Jasper Place Wellness Centre, explains that the new name is part of a series of changes the organization is implementing as part of a three-year grant (of which it’s about halfway through) from the Edmonton Community Foundation. Food4Good covers the residents of the west end of Edmonton, from 149 Street to 170 Street and 107 Avenue to Whitemud Drive. The neighbourhoods contained in that area are diverse, ranging from low-income to quite affluent, but Food4Good aims to leverage these differences.
“People suffering from food insecurity and other challenges, they don’t have the time to do a garden, sometimes because they are working two or three jobs to make ends meet,” Motta explains. “But folks that are more affluent, sometimes they have time and they use gardening as a tool for relaxation, and they see that there is something good about it. So we are connecting these two groups of people to work in different gardens in the community.”
There are about 10 gardens throughout the Food4Good district: in backyards, in front of churches and at Jasper Place High School; Motta notes the organization has also reached out to the city about using parkland for some gardening. The produce grown in those gardens will be shared among the community through cooking classes and community meals, which will teach people how to use various vegetables and fruits, followed by a communal celebratory meal.
Food4Good is also working on an initiative to address the access and distribution of food throughout the community, specifically through a local grocery store that would operate on a unique model.
“Our vision is that we will have a card that will tell us if you’re in need or not,” Motta explains. “So you will come into the store; you will shop normally; once you come to the till, we are going to swipe your card and that card’s going to tell us if you have [a] five-percent discount … which means that’s probably [someone who wants] to support the movement, or it’s going to have a 40-percent or 50-percent discount for somebody that is in need.”
Food4Good will be doing public consultations from May to August to determine if the community would like it to proceed with the grocery-store initiative. In addition to that, Motta notes that Food4Good is looking into other ideas, including a vertical garden which would provide both jobs and training to the community and local veggies to restaurants.
“We have a lot of dreams,” Motta says. “But right now we are kind of in the middle of our grant, and we have seen a lot of growth just in this year and a half.”