New project, FoodWRx, supports youth, contributes to food security

The front and back label of the first FoodWRx soup. Image provided by KCHC.

A new pilot project for Community Harvest Kingston, FoodWRx, will support youth experiencing barriers to employment, as well as contribute to local food security.

In a media release, Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC), sponsor for Community Harvest Kingston (CHK), said that FoodWRx is a multi-faceted social enterprise project which will help youth learn job transferable skills, make new connections in the community and directly contribute to local food security.

Program participants will make locally-sourced, pesticide/herbicide-free soup, which will be available for purchase. For every jar purchased at full price, a jar will be donated to an older adult in our community through KCHC’s Senior Food Box program, according to the release. FoodWRx soup will be available at the Kingston Public Market, and can also be pre-ordered through KCHC by calling 613.767.8591 X 2114.

Soup will also be offered at the Community Harvest Market (85 Maccauley St, Rideau Heights Community Centre) at affordable prices, KCHC said. The market is open to all every Tuesday afternoon, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. until October 5 and also offers affordably priced local, fresh seasonal produce, baked goods and crafts.

Formed in 2005, CHK focuses on innovative approaches to food access in north Kingston and the greater Kingston community, according to the release. In 2009, they launched the Community Harvest Market, which at the time was one of only two affordable access farmers markets in Ontario. The mission of CHK is to increase affordable access to local, sustainably grown food, provide educational opportunities regarding healthy food, and build community.

Based on the highly successful Hope Blooms project in Halifax, N.S, FoodWRx participants will work as a team to develop a product from start to finish, while learning many new skills, receiving training and certification to help them succeed in numerous industries, building confidence in their abilities and actively participating in social justice, according to the release.

The produce for this project is being provided by No. 9 Gardens, a 40-acre facility north of Kingston near Morton. As Canada’s First Sustainability and Reconciliation Centre, No. 9 Gardens was created as a hands-on teaching facility and lab for research and the implementation of innovative projects and practices that lead to low carbon communities and a sustainable lifestyle, according to their website. The organization is also providing the youth participants with training workshops on food sustainability, KCHC said.

“When Kathy approached No. 9 to get involved with the FoodWRx project we jumped at the chance to help out! FoodWRx is an exciting social entrepreneurial idea that will give back so much to the Kingston community,” said Andrew Davies, Founder of No. 9 Gardens.

CHK said they are incredibly grateful for financial support from the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area. “The Foundation is very excited to support the FoodWRx Project and its focus on food security and skills training for youth,” said Tina Bailey, Executive Director for the Community Foundation. “This social enterprise aligns well with the Foundation’s vision for a well-nourished and resilient community for all.”

FoodWRx is funded by the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area, and is supported by the following partners:

  • KEYS Job Centre – participant financial support
  • KCHC – staff and administrative support
  • No. 9 Gardens – produce and workshops
  • Loving Spoonful – produce and kitchen support
  • City of Kingston – facilities and outreach support
  • Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre – mentoring supports
  • KCHC’s Café 263 – Food preparation, market sales, support to participants

Limited quantities of soup are available to purchase at KCHC now. The health centre is hopeful batches will be available at local markets in the next two weeks.

For more information on the program, contact Kathy at [email protected].

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