Fighting for Healthy, Affordable Food in North End Halifax
Created October  8, 2012 by Gwen McCauley
LocationGottingen & Cunard St.
Funding Level$100k - 150k (< 2014)
Community SizeMore than 1,000
OverviewOur Challenge: The Community Carrot Co-op is an original and innovative response to the tremendous need for ‘real food’ felt by the 5,000+ residents of Halifax’s North End neighbourhood.
We all know that when people don't eat well on a regular basis, the entire community suffers. Children don't do as well in school, adults don't have as much energy or creativity to contribute to the community, overall health declines and costs to the medical and social welfare systems begin to escalate. Access to fresh food is crucial to the physical health of residents and the economic health of the neighborhood. The Carrot Co-op is an innovative approach to ensuring that healthy, affordable food is a priority. The development of this social enterprise champions community resilience, pride and resourcefulness through community ownership and stewardship.
The North End has been a food desert for over 25 years. Without a full service grocery store many residents travel by bus or taxi to the nearest grocery chain over 2 km away. Too many end up eating the poor quality, more expensive, highly processed products easily available at local convenience stores.
The City of Halifax currently supports the creation of complete communities – safe, mixed-use, diverse neighbourhoods where people live, work and access amenities that support quality of life. North End Halifax is a vibrant, growing community that includes multigenerational families of a large African Nova Scotian population, immigrants, refugees plus many emergency shelters, transitional housing, drop-in centres and other social service agencies, and a small but growing group of middle income condo dwellers. Everyone currently lives without access to a local grocery store.
-The Carrot Co-op service area includes 1,900 families/5,000+ residents
-There are more low-income families: N End 60% vs Halifax 37%
-Average North End income is $27,209/year, 48% of Halifax average
-54% of residents are unemployed
-250 N End families use Parker St. Food Bank weekly
Paying the price in many ways: Scott Barber says “Having been a single dad who raised his son in the North End community, I understand the challenges faced by residents trying to feed their families healthy food here.The extra time and money required to leave the area to get to a grocery store just adds to the cost and difficulties.”
Ingrid Singing Grass reports “I live in this neighbourhood with my two children. It's a long walk back from the big chain grocery stores with heavy bags. I love this idea! great work getting the word out!”
Donny Mullins tell us his grocery bill is $20 higher than most because he needs to hire a taxi. He can't carry groceries on the back of his motorized wheelchair because food was regularly stolen on his way home.
Should eating well be this difficult for people just because they live in an inner city neighbourhood?
What is the Community Carrot Co-op:
-A not-for-profit group of passionate, committed citizens working hard to bring access to nutritious food to the Gottingen St. area by Spring 2013.
-With Aviva funding we can rent a convenient, clean and modern facility to sell a full range of fresh fruits & vegetables, meats, fish, bakery products and groceries (canned goods, cleaning products, snacks, toiletries, etc.), to local residents - fresh, affordable, healthy food, as much as possible grown locally
-Our co-op model invites community involvement and keeps prices low, while letting us focus on priorities other than profit (delivery service, great customer service, nutrition education, community kitchen, etc.)
-Our Steering Committee includes over 40 committed community members from a food co-op founder to an architecture student, and with backgrounds as varied as law, psychology, fitness, retail, politics, housekeeping, community development, facilitation, writing, marketing, social media, engineering, nursing, business, urban anthropology, building, health promotion
-We are proactively involved with many other community groups such as North End Matters, Hope Blooms (children’s community garden), NE Bus Assoc, the recent Holiday Parade, United Memorial Church, Halifax Connects, as well as our Community Police Service and Fire Services.
Our Aviva submission is for $115,000 in start-up costs. Our business plan shows we’ll have sufficient revenue stream to cover on-going operating costs once through the 6-month start-up period.
Likelihood of Success: We are confident of The Community Carrot Co-op grocery’s success because of both the tremendous community need and the breadth and depth of support we’re receiving from the community itself. Over the voting period we have morphed into an urban food movement with media, community and political support across the Halifax Regional Municipality, from many Maritime regions and right out to Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and BC. Some specific reasons we know we’ll be successful include:
-There is a pressing demand in the community for such a facility. We plan to start small and grow as revenues allow.
-Our co-op model focuses on what matters most: quality food, quality service, convenient location, community ownership & control.
-We have a committed, motivated, varied group of volunteers willing to work long-term, constantly building relationships with other community groups.
-We continually reach out to our users, increasing and deepening our positive relationships with all members of the community.