Cambridge Food Bank launches mobile markets to tackle food insecurity stigma

The Cambridge Food Bank has launched a mobile market in a bid to decrease the stigma associated with accessing its services. (Krista Sharpe/CTV Kitchener)

The Cambridge Food Bank has launched a mobile market in a bid to decrease the stigma associated with accessing its services.

The food bank pop up, designed to look and feel like a miniature farmers' market, is setting up in the city's most at-need neighbourhoods.

"We know that some people will not use the food bank because of stigma," said Dianne McLeod, executive director of the Cambridge Food Bank. "We deliberately wanted to bring the market into neighbourhoods where people are already gathering, where they already have relationships of trust and connection."

Derik Fuller, lead pastor at Forward Church in Cambridge's south end, welcomed the program.

"We have members of our church who are taking advantage of it and we have members of our church who serve every week at it providing food," he said.

In the past few weeks, food prices have been on the rise with some products inflating by 10 to 20 per cent.

Expects say the pandemic and supply chain issues are partly to blame.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Cambridge Food Bank has saw its demand increase by 30 per cent, but officials said that number is now slowly returning to normal.

At the pop-up markets, no proof of struggle or personal information is necessary. Anyone is welcome for a flat fee of $5.

"The market is something they're actually contributing to, it's not a charitable program, it's not food assistance if you will, but it's an actual shopping experience that they're part of," McLeod said.

The market rotates between five different locations, three days per week.

Prepared and fresh options are available.

Farmer Lauren Stallard said the market is a way to support both farmers and food access.

"Farming doesn't exist in a vacuum and neither does food need or food access," she said.