Feed It Forward
Feed it Forward bills itself as the world’s first pay-what-you-can grocery store, bakery and coffee shop. Certainly the first in Toronto, there are no prices here, everything is donated, most of it is organic and everything is PWYC by donation.
Run by Chef Jagger Gordon and a team of volunteers, the project was inspired by the amount of food wasted after catering gigs, and the way 40 per cent of food produced in Canada ends up in the landfill while one in seven Canadians goes hungry.
The interior is compact yet functional, a couple shelves on each side of the room and a table of produce in the middle. There’s some ledge seating near the front suitable for enjoying coffee and soup, and a fun patch of AstroTurf at the entrance that begs to be Instagrammed.
Items are donated by reliable grocery stores, restaurants, café, locals and food manufacturing facilities that would otherwise be throwing perfectly good food away.
That even includes high-end prepped items like riced broccoli and Organic Girl greens.
Everything is seasonal: tomatoes, strawberries, and stone fruit were piled on the central table during my visit.
Not only is there slightly bruised but fresh produce, but multiple varieties of seedlings including yellow bean, pumpkin, acorn squash and Savoy cabbage ready to be adopted.
A bring-your-own-container policy is employed so that not only food waste is reduced, but packaging waste as well. Dry good staples like sugar, flour, oatmeal and rice are available in bulk.
Dine in on a nourishing restaurant-quality meal of organic tomato soup. One of Chef Gordon’s many projects actually includes a PWYC soup bar in Market 707.
All cooking and baking of items like donuts and flaky apple blossoms is done at his 10,000-square-foot central facility.
Not only does a selection of baked goods come in from the facility every day, but there’s a well-stocked section dedicated solely to breads as well.
Coffee beans are donated by major chain providers, available in bulk and also used to make brewed coffee.
Frozen meals can be found here, also part of the “Feed the Future” PWYC delivery program geared toward U of T students. A $5 donation is encouraged for nutritious frozen meals of filet mignon, salmon, or tilapia that would otherwise be inaccessible for that price.
When you’re done shopping, take your purchases to the counter and pay by debit, credit or simply by placing cash in the TTC fare box. Gordon has seemingly innumerable food security irons in the fire, so it’s easy to donate to, volunteer for, or take advantage of one of them.