With the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, both Oasis Cafe and Kits Cares Cafe had to pivot from community cafes to serving takeout and grocery hampers. As both communities adjusted to new ways of eating and being, we reflected on the critical role of food and how it continued to bring people together. Like the breaking of bread in the Eucharist, the practice of sharing a meal together at the table draws people from different backgrounds into relationship with one another. At Tenth Church, serving food is not just providing physical sustenance but it is also an act of worship. God calls us to love our neighbours; helping those in need with food. Providing food in community with others is a way to express our need for the spiritual. Jesus calls himself the "Bread of Life" and eating food together is a sign of, and way towards, connecting with Him.
After reviewing many approaches to addressing food insecurity - regionally, nationally, and globally- we began to deeply examine a community food market approach. This approach allows people to access food at zero/low cost, while providing everyone with options that promotes dignity, and facilitates sharing fresh produce and other healthy food options.
Why a food market model?
A community food market can be summed up in three words: food, people, place - where the main goal is to provide a dignified manner for low-income communities to access fresh fruits and vegetables. We aim to make the market a place where any income level feels as though s/he has stepped into a cherished place.
Customers get to pick out their own food, most similar to a grocery store or farmers
market experience. The market will be aesthetically pleasing. Knowing that the market is made for them, the guest will feel as though s/he is valuable because of the efforts we put into the space. Convenient and accessible, the community food market welcomes people to pick up groceries while they are already dining at Oasis Cafe on Tuesday mornings. Our goal is to foster a dignifying experience that ensures individuals have choice over the food they receive, and to enhance accessibility to healthy food options.
The community food market will help to address systemic barriers to accessing nutritious food at a low cost. This model maintains a welcoming posture without the barrier of pre-registration or ID-checking. The community food market prioritizes community engagement such as conversation, recipe-sharing and volunteer opportunities for community members.
How can you help?