Pay-what-you-can pop-up market and cafe opens at some Calgary YMCAs
Initiative provides dignified access to fresh, healthy food on a budget, says manager
A pop-up cafe and market where users can pay what they can afford have launched in Calgary in an effort to address food insecurity.
The Kin Market and Kin Café were created by the Leftovers Foundation, YMCA Calgary and Fresh Routes.
Operating out of the Shawnessy and Saddletowne YMCAs, the market consists of food trolleys filled with fruits and vegetables.
Meanwhile, the volunteer-run coffee cart — complete with doughnuts — is at the Shawnessy location.
And according to Kin project manager Paul Annunziello, who is with the Leftovers Foundation, the initiative is about providing dignified access to fresh, healthy food for people on small budgets.
"We really want people to feel empowered to just give whatever they can. There's no guilt, there's no shame," Annunziello said.
"We understand, you know, everybody's circumstances look different."
Filling a gap
According to Annunziello, the hope is that the service fills a gap for Calgairans.
The produce is sourced from northeast Calgary's H&W Produce, and is supplemented by donations from Cisco. He says it's good quality food — nothing Annunziello wouldn't give to his own family.
A local roasterie, Motherlode Coffee, is behind the the brew, while Ritual Doughnuts supplies the pastries.
"We're here for the person who doesn't normally go and buy a coffee and a doughnut because that's extra for them," Annunziello said.
Brian Gervais, the vice-president of people and culture for the Calgary YMCA, says more Calgarians are struggling during COVID-19 — to make ends meet, to get food on the table.
It's something he has heard from the YMCA's members, employees and the community.
And when the YMCA had an employee emergency fund to help them through a tough stretch when it was closed, 70 per cent of the draw went toward food security, Gervais says.
"It's a big deal, and being able to help out in any way is where we want to be," he said.
"Between Saddletowne and Shawnessy, I think we're hitting a big part of the community where this is really going to resonate."
The market runs at the Shawnessy YMCA on Saturday afternoons from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and at the Saddletowne YMCA on Monday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The coffee cart will be at the Shawnessy location Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
With files from Dan McGarvey