What began as a simple grade five class project has evolved into a new region-wide food security initiative. Thanks to students and faculty at Edith Cavell Public School, in collaboration with Niagara Region Public Health, United Way’s Community Pop-up Produce Market’s (CPPM) are beginning to ‘pop up’ in schools across the region.
My mom was blown away at how they are doing these things for us and giving us all this food to bring home. It helps out a lot at our house.
The markets provide an affordable means to access nutritious food, easing financial burdens on families and improving overall health and well-being for entire communities. The Soaring Eagles elementary and secondary program, run by the Niagara Regional Native Centre and Niagara Catholic District School Board, was next to adopt the model and launched their market program this fall.
“I thought the produce market was amazing. Especially since fruits and vegetables are so expensive in grocery stores, this is an awesome opportunity to have at our school. My mom was blown away at how they are doing these things for us and giving us all this food to bring home. It helps out a lot at our house,” said Daniel, a student at Soaring Eagles.
Schools serve as essential community access points, connecting diverse families across neighbourhoods, regardless of their income, race or social status. They also prove to be ideal locations for hosting produce markets that increase access to affordable food, ultimately benefiting everyone involved. The CPPM school model integrates food security into the curriculum, incorporating math, language, social and life skills in the process.
The price point, hovering at around $5 for a large bag of assorted produce (chosen and ordered by the students), is significantly more budget-friendly than purchasing the same quantity from convenience or grocery stores.
The school model is successful because it was designed with the students and families it serves. Families place their orders by paying a nominal fee up front, this gives the students the exact budget they have work with. By ordering in bulk, using the money they have collected in addition to the monthly subsidy provided by United Way, they have been able to keep costs low, purchase more food, eliminate waste and operate sustainably.
The price point, hovering at around $5 for a large bag of assorted produce (chosen and ordered by the students), is significantly more budget-friendly than purchasing the same quantity from convenience or grocery stores. They also offer healthier options that fit the needs and wants of the families who will enjoy them.
United Way is proud to work and collaborate with community partners to expand this program into schools and neighbourhoods where it will have the greatest impact. This initiative is just one illustration of our commitment to fostering a stronger, more food-secure community for everyone.
Click here to learn more about the program or find a public market near you.