Grimsby’s White Rhino Gifts, a specialty gift store on the town’s downtown strip, is offering free local produce through a program designed to feed communities across the Niagara Region.
The farm fresh food is provided by the Food Fed Forward program, which is operated by Small Scale Farms. The organization works with a network of local farmers to source the food.
While anyone can also buy local produce, meats, and baked goods from Small Scale Farms, the company recognized that not everyone can afford to purchase healthy food, especially in 2020 with the economic pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. So it created the Food Fed Forward program to solve this problem.
The company funds its free food program by selling produce boxes in the communities it serves. For each box sold, it donates one bag of produce to the community where the purchase was made.
Each week, affiliate hubs receive complimentary bags of produce that anyone can pick up for free, no questions asked.
White Rhino Gifts, located at 7 Main St E, is one of five free food distribution sites in the region. The others are located in St. Catharines, Welland, and Niagara Falls. Small Scale Farms is currently working to arrange more locations. Future sites will include a yet-to-be-announced family physician’s office in Lincoln. It will be the second location in the program available to West Niagara residents.
White Rhino Gifts receives a weekly shipment of complimentary produce bags. “We provide 10 Food Fed Forward bags to the Grimsby community each week,” said owner Mark Chindemi. Anyone can drop into the store from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays or 12 p.m. to 4 p.m on Sundays to pick up a free surprise mix of locally grown vegetables and fruits.
Chindemi also emphasized that the bags are for everyone. “These produce bags are for anyone, not just a certain demographic of people. We are happy to be providing good food for the people,” he said.
The bags are available for those who need them, but also they can be taken by people who might be interested in purchasing a Smale Scale Farms produce box. Anyone can take a sample, that’s just fine too.
What’s most important, is that people know the bags exist so they don’t go to waste. The other hubs where food bags can be picked in the region include:
- TRUTH Niagara, located at 3 E Main St. in Welland.
- The Soup Kitchen of Niagara Falls Community Outreach, located at 4865 St. Lawrence Ave, Niagara Falls.
- Reach Out Niagara Family Support Services, located at 126 Niagara St. in St. Catharines.
- Niagara Dream Centre, located at 60 Facer St. in St. Catharines.
Any person or organization can get involved with Food Fed Forward. Email [email protected] for more information. To purchase local food and other products from Small Scale Farms or inquire about the Farm fed Forward initiative and pick-up locations visit SmallScaleFarms.ca.