‘A win-win’: Montreal Public Markets network expands unsold produce program

After five years of successfully redistributing unsold products from the Jean-Talon Market to low-income households, the Montreal Public Markets network is expanding. Récolte Engagée program for Atwater Market.

Through the program, vendors donate unsold produce to community organizations that serve people living with food insecurity.

Last season, 677 low-income households saved 10 tons of produce from the wild.

“It’s a success,” said Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet, executive director of Montreal Public Markets.

“It is important that public markets contribute to the benefit of society, regardless of family income.”

Partner organizations in the neighborhoods they serve Center for Resources et d’Action Communautaire de la Petite-Patrie (CRACPP) near Jean-Talon Market and Share the Heat in the Sud-Ouest district.

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The need for new products is high

that one Récolte Engagée The arrival of the program in Sud-Ouest is a great relief, said Share the Warmth executive director Stéphanie Taillon.

Taillon said they are struggling to meet the demands of people who use their food security programs, which include food banks and food boxes for children.

“This project is really important for us because the cost of food has gone up a lot,” said Taillon. “It’s really expensive for our community to buy new products, so having products like this donated to us will keep costs down.”

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According to Taillon, their food bank membership has increased by 65 percent since the start of the pandemic — something she has never seen before. Share the Heat adds an average of seven to 10 families to its membership each week, she said.

But by meeting vendors and building community relationships, Taillon says the program is off to an exciting start.

“No one should be food insecure, and right now it’s really increasing,” she said.

“With projects like this it’s important to put it together really well. We respond to their needs as well, it’s good for them to have a place to eat and not waste.”

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Fabien-Ouellet said the goal is to eventually have all public markets participate in the program while partnering with those who know the needs of their communities best.

Atwater Market vendors aren’t ready to redistribute the products yet because the details of the partnership are still being worked out, but Fabien-Ouellet says they should all be set up within the next month.

“All merchants are happy to participate in the program and benefit the community,” said Fabien-Ouellet.

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