Canada’s 1st Free Grocery Store

Saskatchewan is opening Canada’s first free grocery store, thanks to the Regina Food Bank’s ongoing efforts to support the community.

Located at 1881 Broad St. in Regina, the Food Hub will resemble a regular grocery store with a produce section, display fridges, and extended hours, unlike other food aid projects that often operate out of churches or community centers.

The Regina Food Bank aims to restore agency to those who rely on their services by allowing them to shop like at a regular store, which can also help reduce waste and feed more people.

“When you give choices, you give dignity and can feed about 25% more people,” said Regina Food Bank vice-president David Froh.

People sometimes run into difficulty with standard food banks that use pre-packaged crates of canned or boxed goods because they can’t cater to dietary restrictions, allergies, proper nutrition, or taste preferences.

“Normally, I barter with neighbors, but many people can’t do that, so a lot of food goes to waste,” said customer Jon White.

The Regina Food Bank serves not just the homeless or those in severe need but also working individuals and students. About 18% of its customers are full-time workers, and 2,000 students receive snacks and meals through their programs. One goal of the Food Hub is to reduce the stigma associated with using a food bank.

Without government subsidies, the Food Bank raised the CAD$3.7 million needed for the Food Hub through private donations, including CAD$1 million from The Mosaic Company. Much of the food is locally produced, supporting the Food Bank’s mission to improve the sustainability and nutritional quality of its offerings.

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