Food left over after the South Osborne Farmers’ Market closes each Wednesday night this summer is being donated to a new food box program aimed at feeding Winnipeggers in need.
The Waste-Not community food box program is collecting food which might otherwise be discarded, such as vegetables on the verge of wilting or food that doesn’t appeal in terms of visual attraction, donated by vendors at the market.
The program was launched recently by the Fireweed Food Co-op, which runs the market, in conjunction with the Mutual Aid Society Winnipeg (MAS), a grassroots, community-led initiative founded in response to COVID-19.
Anna Sigrithur, the co-op’s Food Hub co-ordinator, said they are very aware of the imbalance in food equity that has been worsened by the pandemic.
"We know there are people who are in trouble due to the pandemic, who can’t afford to feed their family," Sigrithur said. "We were keeping an eye open for an opportunity to change this, and our friends at MAS started their hot meal delivery, which has grown. The Waste-Not food boxes fit in perfectly to this."
The Serve the People meal program run by MAS has provided nearly 6,000 meals to people in need in Winnipeg since March.
Fireweed is collecting donations of food at the farmers’ market and also their Food Hub warehouse in order to assemble boxes of healthy, local food that can go to families in need, and help prevent the waste of high-quality, high-nutrition, locally-grown foods, according to Sigrithur.
"Small farmers are very conscious about food waste," she said. "At the market, for example, at the end of the day there might be slightly wilted produce that is unsold, or what people see as ‘ugly food’, that could be misshapen. It’s perfectly safe and nutritious."
The first week of boxes contained potatoes, carrots, chard, garlic, onions, zucchini and other squashes.
The co-op is also seeking monetary donations to purchase items such as locally-produced meat and legumes, like lentils and quinoa in order to add protein to the food boxes.
More information about the Waste-Not community food box program and a link for donations is at www.fireweedfoodcoop.ca/waste-not
Susie Strachan is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Call her at 204-697-7150 or 204-583-4718 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org