Trillium grant means more CDC food markets

No other sector has been caught in the global trade crossfire quite like Canadian agriculture. Commodities, including soybeans, canola and pork, have been hit either directly by trade restrictions or have had to endure the economic ripple effects of trade wars between other nations.

Brenda Foran, foreground, Jim Mallabar and Jennifer Allen promote the expansion of the Good Food Market Tuesday at the Community Development Council of Quinte. A Trillium grant is adding 15 markets to the schedule. Luke Hendry/The Intelligencer

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A whopping $523,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation is bringing fresh food to more people in Hastings County.

The Community Development Council of Quinte (CDC) operates the Good Food Markets, which offer fruit and vegetables at wholesale prices. The program’s goal is to reduce food insecurity by increasing access to fresh food in places where it is either unavailable or, for many people, unaffordable.

Prior to February there were seven of the indoor markets in the county. The grant has increased that to 10, with two more coming by November and a total of 22 by January 2022.

“I couldn’t be more excited because this was the only hope for the program,” said Ruth Ingersoll, the CDC’s executive director.

The markets launched in 2016 with initial funding from Hastings County, she said.

“This is the largest grant we’ve ever received.

“We’ve never had this amount of money to put into programs, with the resources to grow them they way they need to be grown,” Ingersoll said.

“It’s like a dream come true,” said market supervisor Jim Mallabar. “We’re ecstatic.”

He said staff knew having only seven markets was “a drop in the bucket.”

By the end of the expansion, Mallabar said, the program is expected to reach 8,800 people. Last year it served 2,500. This year already 2,000 have shopped at at least one market.

The funding comes with a requirement to expand use by seniors, of which there are nearly 32,000 in Hastings County, Allen said.

Of those, 3,455 are of low income. The markets aim to reach more than 1,900.

This year the program has arrived in Tweed, with demand resulting in second markets added to Bancroft and Madoc. Trenton’s will begin in October while another Belleville one is to start in November.

Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Limerick Township and Stirling are among those slated to get their own.

The agency has hired three people for the expansion. Jennifer Allen coordinates the markets while facilitators Dani Richardson and Brenda Foran operate each stop.

“We really need volunteers,” Allen said.

Facilitators Brenda Foran and Dani Richardson started work in June and said they like the social atmosphere the events provide.

“We get to be that hub for a community,” Richardson said.

“Everyone’s treated exactly the same,” Foran said.

“It’s so great to have people come in and be so pumped to be there,” Richardson added. It’s become part of their routines. They mark it on their calendars.”

Foran has spent years in the food industry; she once owned a café in downtown Belleville.

Richardson studied international development before earning a degree in sustainable agriculture and starting a master’s degree in sustainability. She has also run her own food business.

Each month, said Foran, they choose a particular food as a theme for the market.

“We come up with easy-peasy recipes” using that item, she said.

The grant will also help to cover advertising costs and increase social media.

Ingersoll said staff will be research ways to make the program sustainable once the Trillium funding ends.

Organizers encouraged more people to make use of the program.

“We’re waiting for you,” Richardson said.

Organizers ask customers to bring their own shopping bags.

Market dates vary. For more information on CDC programs, call 613-968-2466 or visit cdcquinte.com.

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