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Christmas in a box comes to Niagara Falls food literacy market

Updated: Jan 15

December 20, 2020

Dozens of families in Niagara Falls will be sitting down to a meal of succulent capon, stuffing, roasted vegetables and dessert on Christmas Day, and getting all the ingredients for that was as simple as picking up a box handed out at the GROW Community Food Literacy Centre on Saturday.

The weekly market on Fourth Avenue was busy with people shopping for everything from mangos and potatoes to greens and other healthy dishes at a fraction of what it costs at supermarkets, but this week’s market had a special twist: Christmas in a box.

Volunteers packed the boxes full of fresh garlic, potatoes, carrots, lemon, tangerines, boxes of stuffing, fresh thyme and rosemary, fresh bread, chicken broth and brownie mix for dessert. Each meal preparation kit also included one of 65 capons sponsored by Kent Heritage Farms of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Most of the ingredients were supplied by local realtor and market volunteer Rose Iannacchino and her supporters. “I just reached out to my friends and colleagues and they all pitched in to purchase items or donate funds,” she said.

John Turner, a volunteer member of the market’s community advisory board, said Iannacchino also spearheaded a similar meal kit giveaway at Thanksgiving. “She even stayed up all night cooking banana bread for everyone then,” he said. “That’s how dedicated she is.”

Saturday’s meal kits also included a special indulgence: handmade Swiss chocolates made by chocolatier and chef professor Benny Sauter, said Turner, who estimated each Christmas box was worth more than $100, not counting the capons. Clients paid a mere $5 for the boxes, said GROW executive director Pam Farrell.

Turner said the market, which opened in July, has seen its clientele soar. Volunteer Katie MacNeill, who has a degree in public health and who works at the multidisciplinary Niagara Medical Group Family Health Team downtown, said she arrived an hour before the market opened, and people were already lined up.

She makes a habit of handing out her business card to clients of the non-profit market, who have to show they’re living below the low-income cut-off, so they can access the services at the health team such as diabetes education and even a free income tax clinic.

MacNeill said it’s ideal to have the market downtown where people can get healthy food such as 30 eggs for $2, large carrots for five cents and bags of Brussels sprouts for 50 cents.

“The need is here,” she said. “The region let us know it’s the most impoverished area in the entire Niagara Region.

“Food security is a major issue,” said MacNeill. “This is a great asset for the community.”


Paul Forsyth

Niagara This Week - Niagara Falls

Sunday, December 20, 2020


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GROW Community Food Literacy Centre is a registered charitable organization. #75433 7939 RR0001

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We acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties, and is within the lands protected by the “Dish With One Spoon” wampum agreement. With our Indigenous Outreach Coordinator, we are working closely with our Indigenous community to advocate for a just food system, and to create community food programs that are culturally relevant, diverse, equitable and inclusive.

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