Community Stories:

High River – Community response to food insecurity

Since 1998, Wild Rose Community Connections (WRCC) has been working with vulnerable families to assist them in raising happy, healthy children in rural communities south of Calgary.

WRCC’s mission is to “create positive life opportunities for children by working with parents and caregivers to strengthen the family unit and their connection to their community.” WRCC facilitates several programs in the Foothills such as Dads Central, First Years for Families and Wild Rose Food Connections.  Through their work, WRCC staff saw firsthand the struggles families face to ensure their children receive nutritional foods to promote their health and development. 

The Plan

Wild Rose Food Connections (WRFC) is a food security initiative born in response to these observations. Initially funded through a one-year Community Capacity Building grant, the program has now been extended into 2020 with funds from the Calgary Foundation as well as a Community Initiatives Programming (CIP) grant.   This additional funding will assist WRFC to support other communities in building community capacity to build similar food security initiatives to fit their own specific needs.

Wild Rose Food Connections (WRFC) has been gaining momentum since its inception in 2018. WRFC’s goals are to increase access to healthy food while at the same time building community and promoting equitable access to healthy, affordable food. The team also spends time educating the community about healthy eating and the importance of reducing food waste.  WRFC goals impact people, place and planet.

The Outcomes

High River Food Rescue: To date, volunteers have successfully rescued over 51,816 lbs of food since starting in October 2018.  This food has been rescued from over 25 grocery stores, restaurants, and businesses. The food would have otherwise been thrown out due to damage, excess or imminent best before dates.   Items rescued include milk, yogurt, fresh produce, grocery items, cheese and meat.  The rescued food is then distributed through self serve “Markets” (91 so far!) open on Tuesdays/Thursdays.  No identification or personal information is required; only a desire to keep good food out of the landfill.  High River Food Rescue Markets have provided food to 3603 patrons so far, and the program is continuing to grow.  In an August 2019 survey with 59 respondents, 78% percent of users reported that Food Rescue had impacted their diet in a positive way.  More information can be found on our Facebook Page: High River Food Rescue.

Food Asset Maps: A guide updated monthly of all food related resources located in High River that is provided to local agencies and community groups.  Offered in Spanish and Tagalog.     

Lunch in a Crunch: During the summer months/all school breaks students can anonymously text/call 403-813-9819 to be directed to where they can pick up a free nutritious lunch. Funded through the United Way/High River Partnership. 

Food Alliance Meetings: A bi-monthly meeting of all local food related agencies, businesses and interested individuals intended to assist in sharing resources, ideas and programs with the goal of reducing food insecurity in High River.

Kids in the Kitchen: A cooking class for kids aged 10-14 teaching cooking skills, kitchen safety, food safety and FUN! 

Snack Shacks: During the summer months, the High River Library and Bob Snodgrass Recreation Center each have a fridge and pantry with nutritious snacks (open July 1-August 31st, 2019). There are also two Snack Shacks located inside of the Book Bungalows, located at the Skate Park and the other by Colossi’s (4th Ave. Downtown).   Proudly funded through the United Way/High River Partnership. 

Soup for the Soul: This program links isolated seniors/individuals with a volunteer wanting to share a hot meal and some good company.  WRFC provides soup and a bun.  Volunteers set up their own visitation schedule.  Volunteer/referral/ intake forms are available upon request. 

Food Connections Speaker Series: An educational series focused on various topics aimed at educating the community.   Classes have included Maximizing Your Garden Output, 75 ways to Save, Native Bees, Vacations on a Budget, etc.   Watch our Facebook page Wild Rose Food Connections for upcoming classes.

Grow a Row Campaign: Social media and awareness campaign requesting gardeners to grow an extra row of garden items to harvest and donate to the Food Rescue.  The Shepard Family Park Society has graciously donated cold storage so we can be putting out fresh produce throughout the year!  Ideas of what to grow include beets, carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi, parsnips, etc. 

Harvest High River: In partnership with the Town of High River, the locations of trees, shrubs, plants and planters containing edible items will be shared on the Town of High River website through GIS mapping ( so that the public can harvest items like cherries, chokecherries, apples, plums, mint, saskatoon berries, etc.  As well, edible trees will now be offered in the species lineup in the Memorial Tree program.  

Toiletry Collection: In partnership with businesses, sports teams and service clubs we collect toiletry items (shampoo, toilet paper, shaving kits, feminine hygiene products, etc.) every January to give to agencies that work with families and individuals in need.

Food security can be addressed when community responds by leveraging assets such as support from local businesses and volunteers. It takes a community to feed a community!


In the news:

High River Times - Grand opening of the market a new food rescue initiative

Watch more here.

High River Online

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