‘It is handy, it is inexpensive’: Regina pop-up shops supply contemporary produce for low-income households

A Regina non-profit’s pop-up grocery stores are filling a gap for neighbourhoods without supermarkets.

There are very few grocery stores in downtown Regina and North Central, but people can buy food close to home through REACH’s community mobile stores.

The mobile stores are so close to home that many people — like Dayna Sammons — don’t even have to step outside.

“It’s convenient, it’s affordable, when you don’t have to pay for your gas, to go out even, if something might be a little more expensive, it still works out to be cheaper,” said Sammons, a resident of Regina’s YWCA.

Every Tuesday, REACH’s mobile food store sets up in the lobby of the YWCA in downtown Regina. Food stores also pop up in other community locations: mâmawêyatitân Centre, Regina Senior Citizens Centre and five low-income senior apartments.

“It’s handy having this and I’m grateful that they come in,” said Sammons.

REACH is a non-for-profit that is dedicated to providing healthy and affordable food to Regina by offering what they call food security programs.

Everything from potatoes to ground beef is available for purchase at REACH’s mobile community store. (Samanda Brace/CBC News)

“REACH believes in a hand-up, not a handout,”  said Dana Folkersen, REACH Executive Director.

“In all of our programs, the individuals pay for the cost of the food, they don’t pay for the overhead, they don’t pay for the staff, but they’re actually paying for the cost of the food.”

She says they rely on 200 volunteers a week, which helps keep costs down, and customers pay for the wholesale cost of food.

“We’re breaking down the cost as a barrier, transportation as a barrier, and going into these neighbourhoods,” said Folkersen.

She added they buy over half a million dollars worth of fruits and vegetables a year for all their programs.

The mobile community store goes to five low-income senior apartment buildings. (REACH)

The pop-up grocery stores were created with low-income families and individuals in mind, but Folkersen says anyone can purchase their goods.

“What we can do is enable people to eat healthier food and have accessibility to fruits and vegetables by doing this.”

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