The NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre recently completed a consultation process that got them talking about food with community members, nutritionists, neighbourhood leaders, parents, chefs, teachers, nurses and social service providers. In total, 575 people participated in 45 focus groups, one-on-one interviews and brainstorming sessions, and three information-gathering activities were conducted at large community events. Herewith, a round-up of the themes that came out of those conversations, and the ways people want to interact with food in their community.
+ People want a way to connect with each other. Bridging the divides between the cultural communities within Inkster is important to many.
“I want to learn about cultural foods what are they and how to cook them. She cooks good bannock and those ladies who live on the first floor make those little Filipino noodles. I know Ukrainian cooking-there are lots of experts here to teach and share.”
“It would be good to have a spot where aboriginal and newcomer communities can meet.”
“We need groups for single parents, like moms groups, so that people can connect through food with others who are in the same situation.”
+ Poverty is a major challenge, and there is interest in continuing the discussion about food issues and how they relate to poverty, hunger, ill health.
“…food affects how you feel. But there is no money for healthy food to help healing from depression and mental health problems.”
“Rent is expensive. Food money goes to cover rent, so you got somewhere to live but struggle to eat.”
“EIA (Employment and Income Assistance) rates are way too low, minimum wage is way too low. Its hard to be patient but it is overwhelming.”
“Food insecurity is costly for your health and costly for the community."
+ Programming should focus on the entire family, and involve children, youth, and elders/seniors.
“We need cooking groups for the whole family. They are always just for moms. We need them for grandmas, aunties and cousins — for everyone.”
“We need to involve elders to bring knowledge.”
“We need cooking programs for kids. Kids love to bake, chop, mix — anything! They aren’t picky about what it is. They might not always like the healthy food but love to cook and learn to cook.”
+ Brooklands and Weston are areas of concern due to lack of services, food stores, poor transportation, poverty.
+ Diabetes prevention, support and hands-on education are important to the community.
+ There's a strong interest in programming with a fitness component.
+ There's a strong interest in community gardens but also anxieties around these spaces being vandalized or underused.
“If people have space they will garden, as they already have the skills. Gardening is good for people with low literacy. It is also a way of connecting people to people.”
+ Accessing transportation is an issue for some neighborhoods and groups within Inkster.
“Walmart is cheaper but it’s a long bus ride away and have to walk (in winter, with groceries, kids etc.), bus fare is expensive, cab is also expensive so it costs a lot if you have to take kids along with you on the bus.”
+ The high newcomer population has specific needs around volunteering, community connection building and food skills development.
“When I came to Winnipeg, I wasn’t familiar with the different types of food here. You see many people losing the traditional foods, they are too busy now. It is hard to adapt to food here but there is such a high cost of food from cultural stores.”
+ There's a desire to build basic food literacy skills including budgeting, label reading, nutrition and eating healthy on a budget.
“Work, school, appointments, unexpected events-life makes it hard! Need to know how to read labels: what we are we looking for, what do they contain, how to read the vegetable scale and prices at the grocery store, how to understand taxes at the grocery store and how to do eat good on a little money.”