Every week Carolyn puts on an apron, rolls up her sleeves and gets ready to help out in the kitchen at the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre.
“It gets me out of the house and doing something,” she says. “I like helping out with the food, cutting veggies or whatever needs doing.”
Carolyn takes the bus over from Halifax every week to help prepare for Friday’s Good Food Market & Café. The weekly produce market makes fresh fruit and vegetables accessible and affordable to the community, while the café offers healthy, nutritious snacks free of charge.
Produce at the market is sold at wholesale cost and split up into smaller packages to make it as affordable as possible. After people buy their produce they can sit in the café to enjoy a snack, connect with neighbours or meet new friends.
“We make quiche and all kinds of salads. Sometimes we make oatmeal squares. There’s lots of good food available for people who are struggling to make ends meet.”
Like Carolyn, almost half of the people who volunteer at the Community Food Centre also participate in its programs. And for most the chance to connect with others is as important as the good food.
“It’s a great place to meet people and make friends,” says Carolyn, who grew up surrounded by family and friends and has found living alone in a small apartment difficult.
“Pitching in makes me feel good,” Carolyn explains. “I like doing stuff for someone else. When I was home alone, it was like I was in a shell. Now I feel more open about myself.”