Food For Good – Renewable

Food For Good – Renewable

January 30, 2020 0 By William Morgan


This is Ashley. And this is a gutter ball. And this is a bunch of kale. Ashley works with Food4Good, an initiative to eliminate food insecurity in the communities that it serves. Sometimes she’s fundraising
at bowling alleys, and sometimes she’s running
organic produce markets, but it always comes back
to the food people need to be healthy and the reasons
why they can’t get it. We sat down with Ashley to
discuss sustainable food systems, and the question at the heart of all this, with more than enough food for everybody, how are there still people going hungry, and what can we do to fix it? – Food insecurity is fundamentally
an income based issue. We have enough food that’s grown and distributed in the world, it’s not about not having enough food. It’s not about food budgeting, or someone’s inability to cook something. It is an income related
issue at the heart. And so when you do have a fixed
amount of money every month, whether that’s from AISH
or Alberta Works or income, you need a roof over your head, you need to keep the lights on. Food is usually the first thing to go. Roughly one in 10 households in Alberta are food insecure. That means that 480,000 Albertans,
including 16% of children struggle to put food on the table. And food insecurity
impacts mental well-being, physical health and child development. For all those reasons, food security becomes a
question of sustainability. When you have to make food
choices based on income, you’re pushed towards
packaged and fast foods, which are more carbon intensive, and less healthy in the long
run than the alternatives. Food4Good’s mission? Food security for every single person living in the area that they serve. – So our Food4Good division is
our approach to food security in the West End of Edmonton. We work predominantly in
Canora, Britannia Youngstown, Glenwood and West Jasper Place. And those neighbourhoods earn
about two and a half times less annual income than city averages. Our goal is to increase access
to healthy affordable food, and also to use food as
a way to build community and to build belonging
in our neighbourhoods. We were just doing an event
here or there in the community, and as the interest and kind of the buy-in from the neighbourhood grew, now we’ve grown to lots of
events and lots of programs. And we kind of outgrew that pop-up model. We were using church kitchens
and community leagues, and parks and now we
just have outgrown that and there’s too much demand. And it really limits our capacity without having our own space that can house those food programs. So two and a half years ago, Food4Good set out to create
a permanent facility, a beautiful dignified space
where people could access amongst health and housing, food education and security programming. They started fundraising, and now with support from
the Social Enterprise Fund, they’ve got a building. Food4Good received an
EcoCity Edmonton grant to retrofit the building with technology like solar panels, water recovery systems, and an indoor garden
unit for food production. We asked Ashley about the role she’s seen food fill in this community
along this entire journey, what it means to people. – We had a community event called the Taste of West Edmonton. So it was kind of a play
on the Taste of Edmonton, and we had folks from all
different cultural backgrounds who were participating to share
an element of their culture, and a lot of them had
brought food to share. And we had a Moroccan woman who had been coming to our family group a little bit for about a
month and she was super quiet, and she asked if she could bring something to share at the event. And so we said yes and
bought her the ingredients and she went away and made her dish. And then on the day, she came
and was standing at her booth and you could just see
the smile on her face sharing her home cuisine with everyone. And after the event she
came up to us and told us that she had immigrated
to Canada four years ago, and that that day was the first day that she had felt part of a community in the entire time she had been to Canada, by sharing the food that she had made and having the interactions
with everyone in the community. So that was a really
powerful story for us. We wrapped up by asking Ashley how she navigates what
would seem from the outside like such a difficult task. And while food security does
present legitimate challenges in terms of sustainability and income, she reminded us that
at the end of the day, her work centers on food and community, the two things that most
people work to get home to. She left us with this. – So I just love food and the
way it brings people together. I love working in the community. And I get to cook and garden and chat with interesting people all day, and that is an amazing job.