Photo by Kathy Sturmey
BY TARA KAINER, JPIC, AND KATHY STURMEY, GOOD FOOD STAND ORGANIZER
The Good Food Stand, a two-year pilot project initiated by the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Food Access Advisory Committee, “launched under cloudy skies on Monday, August 27, 2018 at Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School. The school was abuzz with students and parents, and many were curious about the tables loaded with fresh, colourful fruit and vegetables,” says Kathy Sturmey, Good Food Stand Organizer.
The Food Access Advisory Committee began as a conversation among 23 representatives from groups and organizations within KFL&A to discuss improving access to safe, affordable, healthy food in isolated regions. It is convened and funded by the United Way of KFL&A and the City of Kingston, as well as by the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area. Its goal is to provide a local, sustainable solution to address food access, thereby promoting good health and well-being among individuals and households using the service in the KFL&A region.
Other partners include KFL&A Public Health Unit, in charge of communications and also evaluation of the pilot; Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC), which holds the Good Food Stand organizer position; and Catholic and Public School Boards along with the Ontario Secondary Schools Teacher Federation (OSSTF) to provide volunteers and Good Food stands at five schools: Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School, LaSalle Secondary School, and Bayridge Secondary School within Kingston, as well as Sydenham High School in Frontenac County and Napanee District Secondary School in Lennox and Addington County.
Tony Deodato & Sons Ltd. supply a variety of fresh produce to each of the stands at reduced prices. Potatoes, onions, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, romaine lettuce, spinach, garlic, cucumbers, green peppers, apples, bananas, blueberries, and more have been on-offer. Vouchers will soon be available as an additional means of ensuring that cost will not be a barrier to anyone purchasing fresh, nutritious food.
Each Good Food Stand is open to the public at one of the five secondary school sites once a month from 3:00 to 5:30 pm. Locations and schedules are listed at www.goodfoodstand-kfla.ca
Also providing support to the Food Access pilot project are a significant number of food-related local organizations and service providers, along with people having lived experience of poverty and food insecurity. Both the Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Office of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul and Community Harvest Kingston, a project of JPIC, are represented.
Entering its third week, Good Food Stand organizer Kathy Sturmey, who also facilitates a market for Community Harvest Kingston, reported that momentum for the project is building. Attendance and sales increased significantly from the first to the second week, she noted, with two of the sites doubling their numbers from week one.
People started sharing their stories, their recipes and what they were having for dinner that night. Two young girls stopped to check out the stand, asked lots of questions and left with an apple each. A little later, they returned to purchase fruit and vegetables for their families, and then came back once more to get more fruit for their school lunches. Some let me know they had shared the information with friends and family and some brought neighbours, family and friends with them.
Good Food Stand Organizer
Teachers are purchasing produce for nutritional cooking classes, and community partners, such as South Frontenac Community Services Corp (SFCSC), have started buying produce from the stand. Any food left at the end of the day is going to partners running food banks and meal programs in their area.
As part of KFL&A poverty reduction initiative, the Good Food Stand pilot project will be evaluated at the end of its first year to ascertain its success and determine whether it will run for a second year. Has access to sufficient, affordable, healthy food increased for participating residents? Has the program helped to reduce poverty and promote good health? Those involved in the project are hopeful. Affordable neighbourhood markets are proving to be a creative policy solution that contribute to the autonomy, dignity, and well-being of its residents. Increasingly, food is being seen as a vehicle to forward a variety of objectives: to promote health, build strong and diverse communities, protect the environment, and strengthen the economy.