Fresh Choices fundraiser brings autonomy back to Calgary families in need

The Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association invites the city to a different approach to food charity.

Fresh Routes Mobile Grocery Store pop-up sign in Calgary on July 19, 2022. INGRID CANUEL / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

This summer, Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association (HSCA) partners with Fresh Routes Mobile Grocery Store to fundraise $10,000 for the fight against hunger. 

The HSCA is looking to change people’s minds about what food charity looks like with the Fresh Choices Program. 

“Empowering people to make their own choices over their diet,” said Ian Lemke, HSCA Communications Coordinator & Voice Newsletter Editor.

“We just think it’s a more dignified approach to food sharing.”

Instead of preselected food, HSCA provides six months’ worth of Fresh Routes grocery credit to an average of 50 families in need.

Lemke said HSCA’s program, which began in 2020, returns people’s purchasing autonomy which may have been lost due to food insecurity. 

The shift to grocery credit stems from the desire to serve the community with dignity and appropriate food choices.

The program finds its foundation in an honour system. On the first Monday of each month, families in need can claim $15 credit to be used toward groceries.

One of the many fresh product offerings at Fresh Routes Mobile Grocery in Calgary on July 19, 2022. INGRID CANUEL / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

It may not seem like much, but with Fresh Routes, a little goes a long way. 

“That’s what’s so great about Fresh Routes: It gives healthy options for considerably less than a lot of other alternatives,” said Lemke. 

The communications coordinator did add that this amount could change depending on the donors. 

With a food bank, people are confined to consuming non-perishable foods.

“Our program goes one step further and lets the people in need choose directly for themselves,” said Lemke.

Depending on the success of this summer fundraiser, HSCA intends on doing a Christmas edition to make families’ holiday togetherness cheery and bright. 

To support the Fresh Choice fundraiser, visit their GoFundMe campaign here.

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