Mustard Seed renovation transforms food bank into market-style experience


WATCH: The Mustard Seed is giving new meaning to shopping with dignity. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

The Mustard Seed Food Bank on Queens Avenue in Victoria has a radical new look.

“We have changed the way we provide food banking services,” said Derek Pace with the Mustard Seed.

Volunteers have transformed the non-profit’s food bank and warehouse into a market, giving clientele a grocery-store-style experience where choice and dignity are top shelf.

“Since the 1980s, we have been pre-packing hampers and giving them to people,” Pace explained. “Now we’re giving people the chance to come through and shop for the items that they actually want for their families.”

The renovations, which cost around $500,000, were completed by the HeroWork Society.

The organization renovates other charities with the help of volunteers, donors and community partners.

“We wanted to create an urban country feel for the market,” said Paul Latour with HeroWork. “We wanted to include people that helped the Mustard Seed, so pictures of volunteers are on the walls.”

Food bank users will still receive the same amount of items as they would receive in a hamper, but now they’ll be able to pick and choose the items.

Organizers believe this new system will help reduce waste while improving food security for the more than 5,000 people who rely on the food bank every month.

“One lady said to me, ‘this makes me feel normal,'” said longtime volunteer Joan-Marie Roy. “It’s nice for them not to be set aside as a needy person. It’s just like going into a normal grocery store.”

Pace says they hope to turn the experience of receiving charity into an opportunity to instill hope for the future with this new system.

“Every person that comes through will walk through with a shopping partner,” Pace explained. “It helps us find out where they are in their lives and whether we can get them services or support in the community.”

The Mustard Seed is asking for food and monetary donations to help keep their shelves stocked for good.

To donate or learn more about the Mustard Seed Market, visit their website.


Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!