Canada Opens a Food Hub to Help People in Need

This unique grocery store lets people shop with dignity.

Family food shopping in a grocery store.

(Dmitry Kalinovsky /

When you shop in a supermarket there are so many foods to choose from. You can buy fresh produce, dairy, proteins, wholesome grains, and just about every thing to cook nutritious and healthy foods for your family.

But people who suffer from food insecurity, usually do not get to make their own choices. The food that is distributed, for the most part, consists of canned or boxed nonperishables like macaroni and cheese and tuna. But now a food bank in Regina, Saskatchewan is opening a food hub – in the summer of 2024 – that looks and feels like a grocery store. And its clients get to choose their own food.

Growth of food insecurity
Since the pandemic, there has been an increase of food bank users across Canada, reported CBC. One-in-eight families are now food insecure and 44 percent of the monthly clients are children. Food bank usage has increased by 76 percent in the past five years. Food banks have struggled to keep up.

The food bank in Regina doesn’t receive government funding for operating costs and depends on donations. But the organization still took it upon itself to build and open a food hub that will give its clients autonomy over what they want to feed their families.

“None of us fit in a box, but that's what we give our clients today," Regina Food Bank vice-president David Froh told CBC. "When you give choices, you give not just dignity, but actually, we figure we can feed about 25 percent more people.”

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That’s because clients don’t always use what they receive from the standard boxed food distributions. Food bank client Jon White said: Normally I barter with my neighbors and we swap back and forth, so it kind of works out that way. But a lot of people don't do that So there's a lot of stuff that just goes to waste.”

While White is a bachelor and likes to cook easy meals like pasta, a family with children have other needs like fresh produce, dairy, and meat. That’s why the food hub will be stocked like any other grocery store.

While the food hub will look like a usual grocery store, there is one distinctive difference, according to Curly Tales – a folk media group – you won’t have to pay.

How the food hub will work
While other Canadian food banks have piloted the choice model in a smaller scale with limited hours, the new food hub will be open five-days-a-week and has the feel of a regular supermarket. Registered food bank clients will be able to shop every two weeks by appointment. They will receive around $200 worth of food per person, reported CBC.

Around half of the products will be local including grains, produce, as well as some animal products SaskMilk ,  Saskatchewan Egg Producers, and Chicken farmers around Saskatchewan. This is a way to help local food producers.

 The community hub will be more than just a place to get food, there will be an outdoor garden, a playground and a basketball court. Froh believes that this will have a positive impact in the lives of people in need.

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