In Canada, a food bank that “gives choice” to the most deprived

“Imagine walking into a store, doing your groceries for the week and not having to worry about an expensive bill at the checkout,” writes the CBC. This is what the Canadian city of Regina, capital of the province of Saskatchewan, which has around 250,000 inhabitants, is offering. Starting this summer, a new food distribution center – the Regina Food Bank – will open its doors in a former government building in the city.

Funded through donations from businesses and individuals, this food bank will be able to serve its beneficiaries five days a week. Once registered, users will be entitled to the equivalent of 135 euros of food every two weeks.

What’s special about this food bank? Operate like a real supermarket. Its “customers” will be able to choose what they want on the shelves, instead of seeing themselves “distribute standardized products”.

Its vice-president, David Froh, sees it as a model for the future for food banks: “When we give (people) the choice, we give them back (…) dignity, but we also think that this will allow us to feed around 25% more people,” he declares to the CBC.

Hunger is gaining ground

Because needs are exploding in the provincial capital. “When you go from 6,000 to 16,000 people (to feed) per month, you need a lot of food,” explains Mr. Froh the chain Global News. His organization signed an agreement with Farm Credit Canada (FAC) to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in specialized containers. “We know that (container growing) is a somewhat new concept, but if this experiment is successful, it can really make a difference in how we can support local communities with access to food,” assures the president of FAC, the largest agricultural lender in the country.

Poverty and food insecurity continue to worsen in Canada. The very last report from Food Banks Canada indicates that in March 2023, these organizations welcomed nearly two million Canadians, that one in six people using them has a job and that a third of their beneficiaries are children.

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