With their recently announced PEC Fresh-Good Food Market, Prince Edward Learning Centre has developed an innovative and affordable way to feed people. The market will be providing fresh, seasonal produce year-round and will operate Wednesdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Despite living in an agricultural region with an abundance of local produce, many in the County still struggle to access quality fruits and vegetables. According to Vital Signs, 11 per cent to 20 per cent of the local population faces food insecurity.
Anyone with limited income, from seniors, students and families, can struggle with regular access to fresh produce for a litany of reasons. Unfortunately, income disparity among Canadians is a direct cause of both diet-related illnesses and chronic health conditions.
“A market like this means that I can afford to send fruit and veggies in my kids’ lunches everyday,” stated PELC student and parent of two, Bobbie.“And, learning new ways to cook vegetables means that I can improve my diet.”
The market will be staffed by students, with Bradley O’Neil taking the helm at the cash register.
“People can come to PEC Fresh to get healthy food they can afford. I’m excited to be working at the market as a cashier so I can make money and meet new people. I hope to see lots of people there,” said O’Neil.
In the future, PEC Fresh is planning fun, educational activities at the market, such as demonstrations and social activities, all of which will adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
“Hastings Prince Edward Public Health has been a great support offering clear guidance for safe operations under COVID-19. We’ve come up with some creative ways to provide opportunities for customers to try new foods, share recipes and knowledge and to help participants make healthy food choices and eat healthy on a budget” said Program Coordinator Robyn Cakebread.
Though the market is underpinned by principles of food security and healthy diets, it is not restricted and there is no means testing to be able to shop. Everyone is welcome.
“We hope PEC Fresh-A Good Food Market is one activity of many that can build on the commitment to food security expressed by local partners like the PEC Food Collective, The County Foundation, the Huff Family Fund and the municipality,” said Kathy Kennedy, PELC Executive Director. “Support for two years from Community Food Centre Canada, and from our community partners, means we can establish and test our model with an aim to sustainability.”
PELC’s food market is one of 15 pilot “Market Greens” programs across Canada funded through Community Food Centre Canada (CFCC). There are two key streams to the Market Greens programs: non-profit markets that provide access to fresh, affordable food and a “Greens Prescription” offered to people who are more vulnerable to cardiometabolic illnesses.
Greens prescriptions are delivered in the form of weekly market subsidies used to buy fruits and vegetables at the market.
“It’s a thrill to be able to work with the CFCC and Market Greens team, as well as the PEC Family Health Team, who will assist with referrals,” explained Cakebread.
The Market Greens initiative has been made possible through the generous partnership and funding from Community Food Centres Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security and the Arrell Family Foundation.
“We believe increasing access to fresh, healthy food through non-profit markets and offering subsidized access to healthy food for people living on low incomes at risk for chronic disease makes good sense,” said Kathryn Scharf, Chief Programs Officer at CFCC. “Market Greens will show that a simple, low-cost investment upstream in making fresh fruits and vegetables an easy and affordable choice, can play a role in preventing illnesses that come at great human and economic cost when treated downstream.”