Food Community Challenge

Priority Area: Food Action

Dates: Feb. 2022 - Mar. 2022

Status: Completed

In February 2022, the Outpost ran the Food Community Innovation Challenge to pilot new services that could strengthen food security within the municipality. The challenge worked with social enterprises, not-for-profits, startups, and businesses to identify issues and create sustainable, impactful food solutions.


Ten projects were awarded $5,000 each and support to develop their ideas.

  • Organization – Public Good Society
    About - The Public Good Society works with partner agencies serving Dartmouth and to share our resources and knowledge to better understand and address complex social issues facing our community members.
    Project Name -
    Collaborative Community Fridge Pilot ProgramProject
    Project Objective - The Dartmouth Community Fridge is a program developed by residents living in downtown Dartmouth and supported by Christ Church and the Public Good Society of Dartmouth. Their project aimed to provide zero-barrier, 24-hour access to free food for the community. Community members can take what they need and leave what they can (you do not need to leave an item to take an item). The challenge support helped them build the shed and purchase equipment and some of the first food items. It also helped establish a community network and attract donations of the first food items through partners and volunteers.
    Result/Update - Word has spread about the community fridge as it is regularly used, and the Public Good Society has seen usage grow tremendously. A lot of people have expressed their extreme gratitude for having an option that is available 24/7, where you do not have to register or wait in line. The organization did a fundraiser in November and was able to raise $5,000 in five days. They also participated in a "Dignity Dartmouth" panel on the topic of food insecurity, and from that, planned to co-form a "Dartmouth Food Network" (a network of service providers & residents who work with food to problem-solve together). They also connected with Feed NS to explore partnership opportunities.

  • Organization – Akoma / Very local Greens
    About - Akoma is committed to providing stewardship of its assets to create economic and social opportunities for the African Nova Scotian Community and general society. Very Local Greens is a boutique urban farm in downtown Dartmouth Nova Scotia located in two 40′ reused freight containers. These specially designed container farms allow them to grow clean, ultra-fresh, hyper-local leafy greens 365 days a year.
    Project NameAutomated Pickup Climate-controlled Kiosk Platform
    Project Objective - Akoma and Very Local Greens partnered to develop an Automated Pickup Climate-controlled Kiosk aimed at having products from food producers available for pick up by customers without the need for an onsite staff member. The kiosk was assembled and constructed by the community’s youth for the community. A fridge and programmable locker with keypads were also installed. The system keeps the food safe and cooled to prolong the shelf life and give flexibility to the food provider and customers.
    Result/Update - The "Akoma Pick-up Fridge" has been used for customers to pick up orders after hours or for social distancing requests. Although the contract with Very Local Greens and Akoma has ended, the kiosk continues to be maintained and supported by the community.

  • Organization – Hope Blooms
    About - Hope Blooms engages youth in North End Halifax to become change agents, positively impacting food security, education, social inclusion, and disrupting the cycle of poverty.
    Project NameDigital Currency for Equitable Food
    Project Objective - The challenge supported Hope Blooms in completing and testing its digital currency platform which supports its equitable community marketplace where there is no exchange of money between patrons and vendors.
    The organization has a cohort of 50 families who will be supported weekly by Hope Blooms, with free Hope Blooms Market Dollars (HBM), to shop at the market. Other community members can shop by loading their own funds however no vendors or other shoppers will know who has the preloaded HBM.
    Results/Update -
    Hope Blooms ran a successful Christmas market with the digital currency fully operational. This is seen as a tremendous success for the community, allowing members to purchase products through means other than cash (e.g., through volunteering and engagement). Hope Blooms plans for many more markets.

  • Organization Mealful
    About - Mealful is a Halifax-based startup that offers pre-ordered meal delivery at a cheaper cost. Meal plans are carefully curated with delicious and healthy meal options from Halifax’s top restaurants and chefs, all delivered hot and fresh twice daily.
    Project Name - Food Desert & Accessibility Pilot
    Project Objective - The challenge supported Mealful in validating a new hub business model, specifically in communities that are facing food insecurities such as manufacturing workers and people residing in food deserts. Mealful successfully executed a pilot of the food accessibility project and delivered over 600 orders.
    Results/Update - Mealful could not continue this project operation due to high delivery costs. As a result of the pilot, they learned how much volume would be required to solve the accessibility problem in the region at an affordable price.

    One of the co-founders/developers has teamed up with another Food Action Challenge winner, Easy Platter, to help with operational efficiencies and partnerships.

  • Organization – Easy Platter
    About - Easy Platter is a Halifax-based startup that connects local chefs/cooks with people who want fresh, healthy, and delicious food prepared right in their kitchen at an affordable price, with less food waste.
    Project Name – Nutrition Education and Skill Development
    Project Objective - The challenge supported Easy Platter in educating people to eat healthier meals affordably by automating and testing a process and platform that shares food lessons with everyone. Easy platter used the funding to make educational cooking videos which can be accessed for free by anyone. They also hosted a culinary class and gave out groceries to a community centre in Dartmouth. They plan to replicate this model.
    - Easy Platter has seen much success, having won an investment from Dragon’s Den for $150K, as well as being 1 of 3 winners for the Volta Cohort Pitch competition for $25k, and receiving a $40K grant from Innovacorp (now incorporated into Invest Nova Scotia). Easy Platter has expanded operations to Toronto, hired six team members, and is currently seeking more investment to continue this strong growth. Watch Easy Platter’s video.

  • Organization – The Loaded Ladle
    About - The Loaded Ladle provides accessible, sustainable, locally sourced free food on the Dalhousie University campus.
    Project Name – Food Justice Coalition
    Project Objective - The Outpost supported Loaded Ladle in developing a food justice coalition that provides resources, programming, and activism in the Maritimes.
    Results/Update -
    Loaded Ladle has completed phase 1 of the development of the 'Community Kitchen Guide'. See the guide here. They have moved to Phase 2 of their project focused on promotion and outreach to grow the platform.

  • Organization – Beechville Education Society
    About - The Beechville Education Society fosters cultural life in schools and community under the committee’s jurisdiction; implements measures to promote the integration of a cultural dimension into schools and community; and advocates and is a support system for continuous lifelong learners.
    Project Name – Food Box Delivery & Sustainable Garden Kits
    Project Objective - The challenge supported the Beechville Education Society in developing their Food for Thoughts delivery boxes to enable community members to participate in primary food production by equipping them with methods of sustainable food creation and preparation through information, access, and resources. The boxes included buy-Black, buy-local products (for example: Hope Blooms, Akoma) as well as a kit to grow your own container garden (seeds, soil, tools).
    Results/Update -
    This is the first step in a long-term plan of formulating a community garden. The kits provide an opportunity for individuals and families to learn about the food production process in a safe and supportive environment. The box includes a double-sided information card: one side contains a community recipe, and the other has information that pertains to cultural awareness and knowledge. This model is now ready to be replicated.

  • Organization – Drinkable Water Solutions
    About - Drinkable is a Halifax-based startup developing the world’s first accurate, affordable, and easy-to-use handheld water testing device. Their team is passionate about empowering people to test their water and confidently act on the insights provided.
    Project Name – Water Verification Tool
    Project Objective - The challenge supported the development of Drinkable’s water quality testing device, which includes simplified risk communication and real-time treatment consultation. Drinkable consulted with communities with poor water quality to educate communities about safe drinking water and what to use to create clean, safe drinking water.
    Results/Update -
    Drinkable was a resident company at Emera IdeaHub and Volta. They won Dalhousie University’s Ready2Launch pitch competition in September 2021 and $55K from the BioInnovation Challenge in November 2022. They launched pre-orders of their water testing device on their website. Watch their story on CBC.

  • Organization – Common Good Solutions
    About - Common Good Solutions helps individuals and purpose-led businesses start, grow, and make a meaningful impact. Their vision is to see every business enrich its local community and the lives of its customers and employees. Their everyday aim is to transform the way business is done to build strong community-based enterprises that nurture the health and sustainability of communities across Canada.
    Project Name – Food Desert Cloud Kitchen
    Project Objective - Common Goods Solutions’ (CGS) project supported African Nova Scotian (ANS) food producers who are not currently able to work from licensed facilities by leasing a commercial kitchen in the North end of Halifax. CGS met with challenge winner Hope Blooms and discussed how their space could be used to support entrepreneurs. They also partnered with a Saint Mary's University MBA class to identify every commercial kitchen within five miles of north end Halifax and then shared the list with groups like Tia Upshaw (Founder and CEO of Black Women in Excellence), MSVU Centre for Women in Business, North End Business Association, Commons Roots, and others, so it is now publicly accessible. They also launched a scale-up program for ANS youth to grow their businesses from their homes and they had several food vendors participate.
    Results/Update -
    In December, Common Goods Solutions hosted a Black business owners fair at the Halifax Chamber Fall Dinner with 500 business owners. They explored partnering on a program to build capacity for food producers with the Centre for Women in Business and they are working on a large-scale food value-add project at the kitchen in NSCC Middleton.

  • Organization – Common Roots
    About - Common Roots uses gardening to promote physical, mental, and environmental health in a welcoming community atmosphere. They have a community garden where individuals or groups can grow food for themselves and their community; a market garden where they grow vegetables, herbs, greens, and flowers for sale and donation; and common plots, which are open for tasting, learning about, and exploring plants. Throughout the growing season, they offer workshops, skill-building, and community events, as well as a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the view.
    Project Name – Farm Incubator
    Project Objective - Common Roots’ project supported the development of a small, individually run market garden, or ‘incubator farm’, which provides access to fresh, culturally relevant food for newcomers to Canada. This provides a sense of belonging and affordable access to culturally relevant food which impacts overall health and well-being and increases food security.
    Results/Update -
    They have undertaken development work, led by Sarah Roberts with Michelle Strum from Alter Egos, a Saint Mary's University MBA consulting team, and the Centre for Women in Business. They have explored opportunities with several organizations including Veith House, Hope Blooms, Cunard Street Children's Centre, and various churches. A survey of local food producers is being undertaken in January to identify producers’ needs. They were also provided with a helpful list of all licensed kitchens in HRM (produced with support from Common Good Solutions).

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