News / Edmonton

Winter Market spreading holiday spirit regardless of income

The market will offer affordable produce, low-cost turkeys and free cooking workshops

Ashley Bouchard is hosting a low-income winter fair tomorrow with cheap turkeys and produce.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

Ashley Bouchard is hosting a low-income winter fair tomorrow with cheap turkeys and produce.

It may be the most wonderful time of year for some, but for others, the holiday season can be stressful and financially challenging.

For that reason, the Jasper Place Wellness Centre’s Food4Good division is holding a Winter Fair to ensure all Edmontonians have the opportunity to afford holiday staples.

Food4Good’s Winter Market takes place Wednesday at Hosanna Lutheran Church at 2:30 p.m. There will be affordable produce, low-cost turkeys and free food and cooking workshops.

The market is especially aimed towards low-income Edmontonians who live in the west end and around Stony Plain Road.

“We want people to have a beautiful healthy meal they can share with their friends or family regardless of their income status,” said Food4Good spokesperson Ashley Bouchard.

The area has a high proportion of low-income buildings, and incomes are on average two and a half times less compared to the rest of the city. It’s also popular with new Canadians, with roughly 28 different ethno-cultural groups residing in the area, Bouchard said.

The Winter Market is modeled on the idea of a community food centre, a vision Food4Good has been trying to realize for years. They recently received $75,000 from Community Food Centres Canada to explore how to make their vision a reality, which will be put toward community consultations, development of materials, hiring new staff members and marketing the project.

Community food centres address food insecurity by not just providing food, but teaching long-term cooking skills and providing a space for community kitchens, gardens and food education programs.

It’s an alternative approach to a food bank, which is needed, but not a long term solution, said Jasper Place Wellness Centre Executive Director Murray Soroka.

“The food bank is like the shelter for homelessness -- we need it, it’s important, but it isn’t the end game,” Soroka said.

The ultimate solution in helping to end food insecurity is not just providing people food, but providing knowledge and skills to make healthy food choices.

Furthermore, there’s a special sense of self-worth when a person makes a meal of their own, rather than having it handed to them, Soroka said.

Bouchard hopes the Winter Market will show what a difference food can make in a community.

“We think the community food centre is a great way to address not only the immediate food needs, through community meals or healthy food hampers, but also as a way to come together, build those relationships and have a sense of pride and belonging in their community.”

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