Minutes from the Vendôme Metro and steps from the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) residential area, the NDG Food Depot launched their GOOD FOOD Market on June 19. The market, which will run every Friday from 2 p.m to 7 p.m., offers a diverse selection of seasonal vegetables brought to the neighborhood by Quebec farmers and sold for a low price; it is an opportunity for NDG residents to access a local and affordable source of healthy food. The food market is also accompanied by spirited music, on-site food preparations by restaurant chefs, and engaging conversation with community members.
The market did not just appear over night – this project has been long in the making. In 2013, the NDG Coalition for Food Security applied to Montreal’s Department of Public Health to obtain funding to implement an initiative to provide better access to fresh and healthy produce. The request was followed by rigorous social work with NDG residents to find out exactly where the needs of the neighborhood lie. As part of the need identification process, a public symposium was held in February 2014, and the gathering inspired the community market.
“This is the first time that we [got] a decent amount of funding for a long period of time; and having the support of the Direction de la Santé Publique as well as the rest of the Coalition has been great to get this market up and happening,” Nicole Fornelli, a NDG Community Council member told The Daily.
The NDG borough of Montreal is considered to be inadequate in terms of sustainable options for fresh food.
The NDG Food Depot has been successful in inciting action within the long decision-making process of larger organizations. Functioning as a community-based non-profit organization, the NDG Food Depot provides an emergency food baskets service for anyone living in the NDG region who does not have the means to purchase food, in general, as well as healthy fresh food. In 2013, the Depot was able to distribute as many as 12,685 baskets. An area is classified as a “food desert” if residents have low accessibility to food markets and stores with affordable products. The emergency basket service proves essential to residents facing these difficulties, and the introduction of the GOOD FOOD Market on Fridays has a similar value to NDG inhabitants.
The market is strategically situated in the yard outside of the NDG Food Depot. According to Fornelli, this placement allows NDG residents to spot it upon picking up their emergency baskets from the Depot. In this way, the Depot informs its visitors that the neighborhood is becoming more sensitive about sustainability issues.
We really want to become a community hub, where people come to eat and meet people, and to do cooking workshops,” ex-President of the Food Depot’s Board of Directors Lynda Porter told The Daily.
The NDG borough of Montreal is considered to be inadequate in terms of sustainable options for fresh food. Historically a highly diverse community, NDG continues to attract immigrants of various ethnic backgrounds. The populations of NDG’s four low-income areas “face major constraints when it comes to adequate housing, food security and academic success.”
The NDG Market was brought to life with the hope that food insecurity in the neighborhood will be better regulated by providing residents with better food choices and sustainable provisions. The enthusiasm expressed by visitors at the market on the opening day foretells the market’s success in bringing people together and making fresh vegetables accessible. The scale of its success in the long run remains to be seen.
“[The Depot] is trying to grow the organization and make it that which is inclusive. […] We really want to become a community hub, where people come to eat and meet people, and to do cooking workshops,” ex-President of the Food Depot’s Board of Directors Lynda Porter told The Daily.
Undeniably, the NDG Food Depot is only a drop in the bucket of food sustainability solutions and cannot completely resolve issues of poverty and food accessibility. It, nevertheless, marks a good step towards addressing the community’s needs.
A previous version of this article stated that the NDG Food Depot provides emergency food baskets to NDG residents classified as living in a “food dessert”. In fact, the Depot provides this service to all residents who do not have the means to purchase food in general. The Daily regrets the error.