Andrea Kuzell (L) Food Bank Coordinator for Feed Scarborough, part of the Scarborough Food Security Iniative and Sumon Roy, Executive Director hold up a shopping card that will be given to patrons. A first of its kind in Canada, grocery store model offering clients choice in what they “purchase” at the food bank.
Centre Photo the lines have grown progressively longer at the food bank with each passing week.
Feed Scarborough Celebrates the Launch of Their New Grocery Store Model
Prioritizing the Dignity of Our Neighbours-in-Need by Honouring the Importance of Choice
Scarborough, ON: On November 5th, 2020, Feed Scarborough, a non-profit organization located in Scarborough Southwest dedicated to making good food easily accessible to everyone in the community launches its new grocery store model. From the beginning of the Pandemic in March, Feed Scarborough has been serving thousands of guests every week with prepackaged boxes and bags full of groceries including fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy, meat & eggs – following the typical style of food banks across the country. In an effort to prioritize the dignity of food bank users and reduce food waste, Feed Scarborough is moving away from a model that leaves little room for choice – challenging the traditional food bank model.
2 years ago, Feed Scarborough was exclusively supporting neighbors-in-need during the holidays and advocating for a more food secure Scarborough, but as the Pandemic hit and shut down essential social services Feed Scarborough stepped up. The rapid growth of the organization can only be explained by the exponential growth in demand for food assistance – Daily Bread has reportedly seen a 200% increase in food bank visits in Toronto since March 2020. Feed Scarborough has gone from a delivery model to a prepackaged box model, and now to a grocery store model that serves over 1000 households every week in four different locations.
As the Executive Director of Feed Scarborough, Suman Roy, puts it plainly, “Choice matters. We cannot be in the business of telling our neighbours what they should eat or put on the table of their families. Everyone NEEDS to have a choice and decide what is best for them and their families.” This new model will invite clients into the Feed Scarborough warehouse, now set up to mimic your local grocery store, to select which fresh and dry groceries patrons will bring home to their families. This, coupled with the new appointment system, means guests will no longer have to wait in line out in the cold for a box of food that may not accommodate important dietary needs, cultural considerations, and taste. We all know that the importance of food extends far beyond sustenance and survival. The act of cooking and sharing a meal with your loved ones is a cherished ritual that connects humanity across lines of class, race, religion, and nationality.
Patrons of the food banks will now book an appointment to visit us, bring their own reusable shopping bag, collect their Preloaded Feed Scarborough Shopping Card, shop with their household allocated budget, and check out with a cashier just as they would at any grocery store. If they have a value left over, they can carry it forward to the following week/visit, giving the guests the option to choose how much food they might need in different weeks, based on their personal situation. Feed Scarborough hopes that the success of this launch will encourage other food banks across the country to move in this direction. As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to push more people into poverty, food banks will play an even bigger role in the food system. The conversation around dignity and community care needs to be central if we are going to meet the increased demand for food assistance with compassion.