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New pay-what-you-can grocery program aims to address food insecurity in Centre Wellington

Those who can pay full retail price for Groceries from the SEED memberships help offset the cost for those who need a discount for nutritious food
20210422 Groceries from the Seed AD
A volunteer at the SEED holds up a green box filled with vegetables. Submitted photo.

GUELPH/WELLINGTON – A food program focused on providing high quality food to those who may not be able to afford groceries.

The SEED, a food project of the Guelph Community Health Centre focused on addressing food insecurity in Guelph and Wellington County, is bringing their Groceries from The Seed service to Centre Wellington and Guelph/Eramosa. 

In the program, residents sign-up as members on the website and then buy their regular groceries through an online store.

The groceries are delivered.

Those who sign-up pick a membership which sets their price point with the idea being that paying full price helps offset those who are food insecure and therefore makes it possible for some families to get up to 50 per cent off of nutritious groceries.

“It’s a unique model, we believe the first of its kind in Canada,” said Madeline Barber, the SEED’s community resources coordinator. 

“The motto is kind of it takes a community to feed the community.”

Barber said memberships will open up to those new communities starting on Wednesday and the first deliveries will be going out next Tuesday. 

She explained the program was originally piloted in Guelph but their mandate includes Wellington County which isn’t immune from the issues of food insecurity. A recent statistic she shared is about 14 per cent, or 20,000 people, in Guelph and Wellington County are food insecure.

“It’s one of those issues that is more prevalent than you would kind of think in such a rich agricultural area,” Barber said. “While there’s a smaller, less dense population in the county, it’s probably comparable to Guelph for people who can’t afford enough nutritious food.”

The warehouse will remain based in Guelph and although they have refrigerated vehicles, they’re not going beyond Centre Wellington for the time being to make sure they get it right with farther delivery distances.

To help offset the transportation costs, the Centre Wellington Community Foundation (CWCF) has provided a $10,000 grant. 

“We were impressed with what the SEED was doing in Guelph and the results they were getting,” said Raymond Soucy, CWCF executive director, in an email. “We found they are reaching a group of people not necessarily being served today.”

Soucy said the CWCF has worked with other organizations looking to address food insecurity in the past and has an ongoing survey to understand the extent of food insecurity in Centre Wellington, Minto, Mapleton and Wellington North.

“We know that food insecurity is a complex issue that impacts people in many ways,” Soucy stated. “The food insecurity survey is to help us (CWCF) and other organizations in the community better understand our needs with an eye toward what actions we can take.”

Barber said there is room to expand the SEED into Wellington County but for now they are looking forward to deepening relationships with county community partners and volunteers. 

Sign up for the Groceries from the SEED program here and take the CWCF food insecurity survey here.

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