Good Food in Bad Times

Emergency funding will allow Jasper Place Wellness Centre to deliver healthful- food boxes to low-income households

When the pandemic hit, Food4Good — the food security arm of Jasper Place Wellness Centre — had to find new ways to nourish the community.

“Most of our programs are focused on things like skills-building and relationship-building,” said program manager Ashley Bouchard. “They’re about bringing people together around food.”

With social distancing protocols in place, the organization had to suspend its in-person education programs and affordable-produce markets. At the same time, the community’s need for healthful and affordable food was only increasing because of the pandemic.

With support from ECF’s Rapid Response Fund, Food4Good was able to provide emergency food hampers at no cost to its west-end clients from March until the end of July. Now, the organization is creating a longer-term version of the program with a $35,000 grant from Edmonton Community Foundation through the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF).

“We’ve been involved with Food4Good since it’s inception and we’ve seen them tackle the issue of food security from several angles,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement said. “With the entrepreneurial approach of Jasper Place Wellness Centre, we’re confident in their ability to run an effective and efficient food program for their clients.”

Good Food 2 Go launches in October and will provide substantially subsidized food boxes (about 50%-70% cheaper than retail) to the community. While the boxes will offer low-income folks access to nutritious food they might not otherwise be able to afford, “it’s not a charity hand-out,” Bouchard said. “Folks will pay some of the cost, because we try to centre dignity in our programs.”

The program will have monthly themes, including fresh produce, pantry staples, or healthful snacks. Some boxes will contain meal assembly kits, like those sold by companies like Hello Fresh or Chef’s Plate. Good Food 2 Go will also create online videos teaching clients how to make the food box recipes — an online alternative to some of the in-person education Food4Good normally offers.

Bouchard explains that Good Food 2 Go will run from October 2020 until the end of September 2021, and hopefully become permanent afterward. The ECSF grant is helping with food costs, staff time, and delivery expenses.

“Without support from the ECF and other funders, we would not be able to pilot this program and find new ways to serve our community during these times,” Bouchard said.

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.