January 14, 2016 6:54 pm
Updated: January 15, 2016 6:18 am

Saskatoon residents respond to grocery store shortage

WATCH ABOVE: The recent closure of a neighbourhood grocery has forced residents to find other sources. Ryan Kessler talks to the members of a new food co-op in Saskatoon that hope to fill the void.

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SASKATOON – A group of people in Saskatoon’s core teamed up and opened their first pop-up market Thursday. The City Centre Food Cooperative came about as a result of the closure of the 7th Avenue Shop Easy in the City Park neighbourhood.

“We formed the co-op with the broader goal of opening a community-owned grocery store at some point in the future,” said Sugandhi del Canto, co-founder of the City Centre Food Cooperative.

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Meanwhile, the group is operating the produce stand every other Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT, with the aim of expanding hours later into the evening.

The makeshift market is located at 506 25th Street East in the Saskatoon Community Service Village. The co-op is hoping seniors, people without vehicles and students find the location central and accessible.

“These are populations that are particularly vulnerable to food access,” del Canto said.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are provided by local food security company CHEP. Vegetables are individually priced and comparable to larger grocery stores.

READ MORE: How to save money at the grocery store amid high food prices

Neither the co-op nor CHEP profits from the pop-up market, del Canto said.

Jenny Plotzki works downtown and often visited the Shop Easy before its closure in early November. She found peppers and bananas at the co-op that will contribute to her Thursday evening meal.

“I like the fact that it’s community-led, that this organization is thinking about the needs of people who live in the downtown area where grocery stores aren’t available,” Plotzki said.

There is still no tenant at the Shop Easy. Parent company Loblaws previously stated that it has received “considerable interest” in the property.

The City Centre Food Cooperative is looking at the Shop Easy as a possible location for a permanent location. However, del Canto said there are a number of properties being looked at if the co-op grows to become a full-fledged grocery store.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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