More in Store: An Update from Our Work in Coast of Bays

Food First NL recently received multi-year federal funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada to scale out the success of our community-led food assessment model.

A Community-Led Food Assessment (CLFA) identifies issues affecting a community’s access to healthy, affordable, and culturally-appropriate food. The goal is to address these issues by creating community-led, and community-specific programs which can be independently maintained by the municipality.

We’re at the beginning stages of conducting a series of assessments in The Coast of Bays region.

Rencontre East is 1 of 3 communities we're working with on this project

Rencontre East is 1 of 3 communities we're working with on this project

This area was chosen after a very comprehensive application process, which identified the Coast of Bays area as the region most in need of an intervention on community health and food security, and also as the region which would most likely have the capacity and level of interest required to take on the work of implementing a CLFA.

Numerous advisers raved about community spirit in the area, and the likelihood of these communities working together to positively improve food security in their region. They were certainly right.

For this project, Food First NL hired 3 local food security coordinators, in 3 communities in the Coast of Bays: Peggy Caines (Rencontre East), Josephine Marshall (Pool's Cove), and Severn Jeddore (Miawpukek First Nation).

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Positive Changes Already in Rencontre East

The Food Security Coordinator for Rencontre East, Peggy Caines, has been “totally shocked” by the community response to this project. In Mid-March, during a community brunch information session about this CLFA, not even a power outage could dim the buzz around the work Peggy and her team are doing.

“We never let that stop us,” Peggy says of the power outage, “someone ran and got a power cord and a neighbour gave us the power we needed to finish cooking.

We had most of our community show up, over one hundred people, even though it was a wet, cold day. Food First was the talk of the town. I was touched by one note which read I’m so glad you got this community involved with Food First NL, you can see a difference already.”

It’s true. While the project hasn’t entered its implementation stage yet, the community’s conversation around the quality and availability of food in Rencontre East has already produced a positive outcome.

Local Corner Store Taking on the Task of Providing Healthier Food for its Town

There is no grocery store in Rencontre East, and therefore, food selection at its 2 stores is one of the most important factors limiting people’s access to healthy food in the community.

We know from surveys in the community that 86% of residents wished they had better access to healthy and affordable food of their choosing. Clearly, the involvement of local store owners is going to be essential for the success of this project in Rencontre East. Fortunately, the owner of Saltbox Convenience agrees.  

In fact, the owner of the store, Deann Trainor, has joined the food security committee for Rencontre East, and even better, she has created a point system at Saltbox Convinience, to reward people for purchasing veggies and fruits at the store. Whoever gets the most points during the month, gets a chicken donated by Ben Evans, and a $20 gift card for the store.

The supply and demand for healthy food is really picking up because of the new points system, and locals have been enjoying a steady stream of items like plums, pineapples, and melons. It’s been good for business and community food security.

This story, and others from around the Coast of Bays – like the chicken rearing happening in Pool’s Cove, and the preschool gardening in Miawpukek  – are very encouraging for how the Our Food: Coast of Bays project is going to go

You know you’re off to a good start when things start changing before your project has truly begun! By simply talking about the project among each other, the community is already working together and seeing positive changes.