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Sask. food bank turns into free grocery store for those in need

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A Rosthern food bank is now operating similar to a grocery store, where families struggling with food insecurity can choose the items they want, rather than relying on pre-made food hampers.

Good Neighbours Food Centre held a grand opening on Thursday to celebrate the switch from a traditional food bank to a free food market.

Executive Director Betty Rudachyk said it’s an idea that’s been years in the making.

“It was the vision and the dream from many years ago, probably from the beginning of this food bank, to eventually have a system that demonstrated more dignity, more respect, more empowerment for people who were needing to access some food aid,” she told CTV News.

Rudachyk said the non-profit was able to buy coolers and freezers through a federal grant, making that dream reality.

(Stacey Hein/CTV News)

Florence Peeteetuce has been using the food bank for the past decade. She said she's “very happy” with the new model.

“It's just so awesome,” she said. “This makes you [feel] like you're just shopping, buying your own stuff. And it's better that way.”

“They can just pick up an item and put it in their cart.”

Similar to a typical grocery store, the food bank has produce, dairy, protein, and hygiene sections.

Rudachyk said a “shopping companion” is set up for each family to help educate and connect with them.

“We work with intention to make sure that people who come through our doors feel seen, heard, respected,” she said.

Rudachyk said the food bank feeds about 1,000 people a month, and since it’s in a rural community, getting donations can be tough.

“The ongoing process that is needed is just the support of money and food to keep those shelves stocked,” she said.

She said donations are always welcome.

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