Since the closing of Safeway at 118 Ave and 82 St, the Alberta Ave area has become more of a food desert, but initiatives like Lodgepole Market and Fresh Express are stepping up to provide the community with fresh, affordable produce.
Steve Smith, the Prayer Works coordinator at St. Faith’s Anglican Church, organizes Lodgepole Market which runs out of the church. The market kicked off on Sept. 1, and it will continue indefinitely on Wednesdays from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
“A group of us who work here [at St. Faith’s], we’ve realized that there’s a strong demand in the community for food,” says Smith. “It’s becoming a bit of a food desert, and we wanted to offer something that would be affordable but nourishing for families.”
Currently, produce and baking are available for purchase at the market, but Smith says that the hope is to expand the market even further once it gets off the ground. “We’d like to be able to have vendors in at some point and we’re looking at offering bannock as well for sale,” explains Smith. “We’re just trying to grow [the market] as we see what the community’s need is.”
Lodgepole Market is partnering with Fatima’s Market to provide the community with affordably priced produce. Fatima’s sells produce to Lodgepole Market at wholesale prices so that fruit and vegetables sold at Lodgepole Market can be available for low costs.
The community response for the market has been very positive, says Smith. “[The community] seemed really happy with the produce and with the prices that we were able to offer.” Even though the turnout for the market has been small so far, Smith notes that “we still felt it was a success, just getting [the market] off the ground.”
Alberta Avenue Community League is offering a space for a Fresh Express bus on Hub Nights (Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m.). The buses have been outfitted as mobile grocery stores, and they primarily serve seniors and communities that experience food deserts.
“Because we’re currently a food desert with our Safeway being closed down,” says Ali Hammington, league president, “[the Fresh Express staff have] agreed to come park in our parking lot once a week.”
Some items for sale include meat, eggs, and fresh produce, which can all be purchased at affordable prices.
Hammington notes that the Safeway was the only full-service grocery store in the Alberta Ave neighbourhood. “It still wasn’t enough… but it was something. And now we don’t have that at all.”
A FreshCo is slated to replace the Safeway, but it is still under renovation. Hammington is unsure if the new store will be able to meet the needs of the community, but hopefully the grocery chain with the motto “lowering grocery prices every day” will provide the savings that community members are looking for.
Check out Lodgepole Market and the Fresh Express bus for fresh produce and groceries.
St. Faith’s Anglican Church (11725 93 St)
Wednesdays, 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Fresh Express bus (9210 118 Ave)
Thursdays, 5 to 8 p.m.