Food desert: A grocery store self-care to the rescue

Désert alimentaire: Une épicerie autogérée à la rescousse

MONTREAL | of The residents of Saint-Henri want to build a grocery store self-managed to overcome the food desert of the west of the district.

The members of the group, The DAL, inspired by a similar project in Pointe-Saint-Charles, wish to be able to offer fresh products at a reduced price. Volunteers give a few hours of their time every four weeks in order to allow price reductions of approximately 20% to 40% compared to a grocery store standard.

The grocery store self-managed collective in The DAL would move in the former Notre-Dame library, vacant for a dozen years. As the building heritage is public, a cost saving would also be made on the rent.

“It would be an opportunity to be together and to have a life of neighborhood with the new and old residents,” underlines Dimitri Expectancy, which is behind the idea.

A petition for the opening of such a grocery store, which has already collected nearly 600 signatures, will be presented at the meeting of the council of the borough of South-West on Monday evening.

Food desert

There is not a lot of food and drink offerings that are affordable and geographically accessible in Saint-Henri, between the rue De Courcelle, and highway 15, and several residents do not have access to food resources, less than 500 metres away, which qualifies the sector of food desert.

“If you look at the location of the most affected by the food desert, what we realize is that people are going to eat in convenience stores,” said Mr. Hope.

According to him, this food desert is amplified because of gentrification for some time, while some of the affordable restaurants of rue Notre-Dame close because of rising rents.

Pandemic

The situation has magnified over the years and the COVID-19 has helped to exacerbate the inequalities present in the district, supported Mr Hope. A support group has been created in the time of a pandemic for the free delivery basket grocery.

“I made deliveries and I realized that this is an issue really serious to Saint-Henri. With the mixture of the emergency situation and the free time of some people with the COVID-19, we put the mouthfuls double for the project,” he says.

In the meantime the grocery store self-managed, the restaurant Grumman’78 and the Maquis Yasolo also offer the order of baskets of vegetables and fruits in the district since the beginning of the pandemic as they may not even open their doors.

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