Deals at student-run market include eggplants for $1.25 and five apples for $1
Ryerson students are often busy and do not have the flexibility to worry about finding affordable healthy food. The Ryerson Good Food Market is there to help.
“We’re trying to make sure that we have access to healthy and local foods on campus because that’s not something that is widely accessible around Ryerson, as we’re located in a food swamp with just a bunch of fast food,” said Kaitlin Rizzari, a co-ordinator with the market from Meal Exchange.
Introduced to the market this month, which was held on Thursday in front of the Student Campus Centre, was prepared food. Soup and zucchini noodles were available to warm up customers during the first snowfall of the season.
Five apples for $1, a quart of potatoes for $1 and eggplants for $1.25 each were some of the market’s other offerings.
The market, which is cash-only, started piloting weekly throughout March and April 2019, and has since been run monthly by part-time student employees from the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) and Meal Exchange, as well as volunteers.
The products are purchased low-cost from non-profit FoodShare Toronto, which sources from farmers locally in Ontario and from the Ontario Food Terminal for international products such as bananas and oranges.
Maria Jude, a food and nutrition student, manages the market. She founded Ryerson Students for Food Security in fall 2018, along with social work student Kim Vaz.
Having an affordable market was a need identified by the society. After considering ideas such as a community kitchen and establishing fridges across campus, they decided on the Good Food Market.
“We really wanted it to be weekly, or even biweekly, something that would actually help students,” said Jude. “Because we feel like … people don’t grocery shop (just) once a month.
“It’s once a month right now because of our capacity and preparation. If we had a staff member that’s not in school, we could run it weekly.”
They intend for the market to remain a permanent establishment and hope to continue expanding.
Rizzari was inspired by Jude’s work and joined up with her to run the food market in its early run.
“I have experienced student food insecurity myself and understood what it meant to not have agency over the food that you’re buying and not necessarily being comfortable going into a food bank and having that amount of vulnerability,” she said.
Some feedback they’ve had is to bring more culturally diverse food to the market. This month they had mango and bitter melon. Rizzari is currently working on incorporating Fillipino food, using her own connections.
They’ve sold out almost every market, with regular customers and volunteers enjoying the market. They have also drawn in people passing by, with some even going to the nearby ATM for cash.
“It feels like something’s happening in terms of community … Ryerson tends to be very isolating because it’s a commuter campus,” said Jude.
The next two markets will be Dec. 4 and Jan. 15, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will be held indoors at the Student Campus Centre with the coming winter weather, and customers are encouraged to bring reusable bags.