Fresh Routes and Calgary Dollars bring food security to centrally located affordable housing
A collaborative program offering low cost, fresh produce is helping fight food insecurity in the Calgary community of Manchester.
Low-income Calgarians have increased access to affordable, healthy food through an exciting partnership between Calgary Housing Company (CHC), Fresh Routes Market, and Calgary Dollars. A weekly market located inside the CHC apartment building brings low-cost produce to community members each week and alleviates food insecurity by reducing barriers to accessing fresh food.
Prior to this program, many Manchester-area residents faced barriers to accessing grocery stores. The one walkable grocery store in the neighbourhood is a wholesaler that often sells food in too large a quantity for smaller households. The next nearest stores are two bus rides away.
This market, held each Wednesday, is supported by the Calgary Foundation Community Grants program. That grant support has allowed Fresh Routes to open two new market locations including the Manchester market where fresh food prices are kept 25 per cent lower than regular markets. It also enables the market to accept 100 per cent Calgary Dollars for purchases.
Calgary Dollars is an alternative, local currency. Calgary Dollars are typically earned through skill sharing, trading and volunteering. In addition to the Fresh Routes Market, residents of the CHC Manchester property are able to pay a portion of their rent with Calgary Dollars. The currency and purchases are tracked through an app.
“Thanks to this partnership we are able to continue supporting economic resilience, community cohesion and food security across Calgary."
Jared Blustein, Program Manager at The Arusha Centre.
“Personally, I am able to utilize Calgary Dollars towards my rent and my groceries. This makes budgeting easier and allows peace of mind. Give and get. It is a beautiful program; perpetual giving on both ends.”
“I am fortunate that Fresh Routes takes place in my building. As for the community feedback: This is something that is convenient for many in the neighborhood - a real bright spot post covid.”
“Volunteering has given me a renewed sense of purpose and identity: giving. Mirroring my first answer about perpetual giving on both sides: It allows me to be a face in the community I live in. It has allowed me to build and foster relationships in the community.”
Ryan McKenzie, Volunteer and Resident of Manchester
According to a 2022 Habitat for Humanity Housing Survey, 4 out of 5 Canadians are concerned about having to spend less on food, savings, transport and debt to pay housing costs. https://habitat.ca/en/news/housingsurvey
Two in 10 (22 per cent) Canadians expect they will need to access charitable services to meet their essential needs such as food, clothing, or shelter in the next six months, according to a recent Ipsos poll conducted for CanadaHelps.org.
About Calgary Housing Company
Calgary Housing Company is the largest landlord in Calgary providing homes and rental support for approximately 27,000 Calgarians. CHC operates affordable, low end of market, rent geared to income and social housing and administers Rent Assistance benefits on behalf of the Province of Alberta.
CHC operates three buildings in Manchester, made up of 31 bachelor units, 179 one bedroom units, 10 accessible one bedroom units, and 117 two bedroom units. At Manchester, CHC also partners with the Mustard Seed through their Neighbour Centre and the SHARP Foundation through their Community Pantry Project.