New Ross, Nova Scotia is a picturesque, rural inland community located in the heart of Nova Scotia. Like many rural, small, and picturesque communities in Atlantic Canada, New Ross is not without its challenges. Nearly a decade ago, the New Ross Community Food Project began with discussions at the local family resource centre around food and nutrition to help support New Ross be a healthy community.
“We wanted it to be far reaching to potentially benefit the whole community, not just a few,” explained Christina Caldwell, a project manager in environmental engineering at Englobe, “We wanted something that the community needed and that would make a real, lasting difference.”
In 2014, funding was secured, and an advisory group was established.
The first step completed by the group, was to perform a community food assessment which would provide a portrait of food security within New Ross, as well as the community’s strengths, needs and assets and priorities. Based on the results of the community food assessment, the group decided on an overall project vision: New Ross and surrounding areas are a place where everyone can get all the healthy foods they need and enjoy them with family and friends.
“Our group has partnered with other volunteer groups, the school, the New Ross Family Resource Centre (NRFRC), the municipality and other interested groups and organizations to coordinate, host and facilitate numerous sessions and programs over the past few years.” added Christina. Some of these activities have included: cooking classes, fruit tree growing workshops, preserving/canning classes (which she organized and facilitated!) and much more.
How is Englobe supporting the New Ross Community Food Project’s vision?
Englobe is a proud sponsor of New Ross’ food box program and bulk buying club. Produce is sourced in bulk through local farms and then sorted into smaller portions to create individual family boxes. Buying in bulk and sometimes sourcing “seconds” directly from farmers allows the group to purchase large quantities of produce very economically as compared to purchasing individually packaged portions. The boxes are then sorted and assembled by NRFRC staff and volunteers.
Although this program has been ongoing for a few years, demand spiked with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, there were families struggling financially as well as people who were just very happy to be able to buy a box of healthy produce locally, and much closer to home. Finances are a barrier for some families to regularly purchase their box, and the program itself needs supplies to operate. Englobe’s support, and that of other sponsors, will allow the program to continue providing healthy boxes of local produce to the New Ross community. There are currently 40 families participating in this program.
Kudos on getting involved, Christina, and making a difference in your community!