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The Good Food Club makes the healthy choice affordable 

Posted on March 28, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

By Brylan Span
Commentator/Courier

Community Food Connections program, the Good Food Club has been around for over 20 years, and continues to help make the healthy food choice the affordable one for Medicine Hat and area residents. It showcases communal effort, offering affordable access to fresh produce while fostering connections and skills within the community.

At the core of the Good Food Club’s mission is its wholesale produce purchasing club model. Members pay an annual fee – $10 with volunteering, $30 without – to access wholesale-priced fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from local suppliers. The club operates on a volunteer basis, with members coming together monthly to pack bins of preordered produce available in small, medium, and large sizes priced at $10, $15, and $20 respectively.

“It’s hard, groceries are expensive these days,” says Community Food Connections Executive Officer and Food Security Co-ordinator Alison Van Dyke. “By buying seasonal produce and buying as much local as possible, we’re able to have a really good high value box for affordable pricing.”

The club’s reach extends beyond Redcliff, with members from neighboring areas welcome to join and pick up orders at designated locations in both Redcliff and Medicine Hat. 

“It’s available to anybody in the community,” said Van Dyke. “We do the packing in the city of Medicine Hat but we have the depot at the Redcliff Public Library as well. People who live outside of the city are welcome to join the club as well, they would just have to come into one of those two locations to pick up, in the city of Medicine Hat or in Redcliff.”

The flexibility of the ordering system allows members to tailor their purchases to their needs, accommodating various combinations of box sizes and quantities. 

“You can order as many boxes and as many combinations of box sizes as you want,” explained Van Dyke. “Sometimes people will order a large for themselves, and they may have a college age kid who lives somewhere else and they order a small for them.”

Beyond providing access to fresh produce, the Good Food Club serves as a catalyst for community development and food education. With a surge in interest sparked by rising food prices and the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the club has witnessed a significant uptick in community gardening programs and educational initiatives aimed at empowering individuals to grow their own food

“The area that we’ve seen a real uptick in with the price of food and then since Covid, is actually people wanting to learn how to grow their own food,” said Van Dyke. “That’s where we are seeing an enormous swell of interest, in our community garden programs and our gardening education program.”

The club’s commitment to accessibility is reflected in its diverse payment options, which include cash, cheque, credit card, and online platforms like PayPal and Stripe. In Redcliff, residents can place cash or cheque orders at the Redcliff Public Library, or visit foodconnections.ca to learn more and preorder their items.

Looking towards the future, Van Dyke says that gardening will continue to be a large focus. 

“It’s very exciting, we have a new garden being developed this year up in North East Crescent Heights,” said Van Dyke. “People have just become wild about learning how to garden and growing their own food, and it’s understandable these days. It’s a big demand in the community and we are happy to support that.”

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