Square Roots project takes aim at food insecurity and waste
Date Published: November 26, 2016
HALIFAX, Nov. 28, 2016 – Enactus Saint Mary’s students are working with two youth from north-end Halifax to break barriers to affordable healthy eating, food waste reduction and pursuing entrepreneurship through a newly launched social enterprise called Square Roots.
“After learning about entrepreneurial action through social enterprise in Options: Youth, we realized a lot of people aren’t eating healthy and getting their daily nutrients,” says Mikel Kelsie, Manager of Business Development for Square Roots. “And, that food waste is a huge problem across Canada. So we put our heads together and came up with Square Roots to create a solution for the problem.”
Square Roots aims to fight food insecurity, food deserts and food waste in Nova Scotia through a bi-weekly, affordable and healthy food box delivery service. The food boxes will cost $10 each and feature 30lbs of primarily root vegetables sourced locally from the Annapolis Valley. The new social enterprise is being piloted in Uniacke Square and at Saint Mary’s University.
“Food insecurity hides in plain sight – with one in five Haligonians considered food insecure, imagine how many people in our daily lives struggle with this issue,” says Ross Arsenault, Enactus Saint Mary’s Co-president. “Not being able to consistently access or afford healthy food impacts every aspect of an individual’s life, including their ability to focus, state of mind and physical health.”
Mikel Kelsie and Cortrell Thomas live in Uniacke Square. The two are participants of OPtions Youth, a Service Canada-supported program coordinated by Sobey School Business Development Centre in collaboration with Enactus Saint Mary’s that provides at-risk youth with mentorship, skill-building opportunities and employability training.
“The OPtions: Youth program helped open my eyes more to life,” says Cortrell Thomas, Manager of Business Development for Square Roots. “You don’t always have to be a hard guy and you don’t always have to follow people – when I was young it wasn’t cool to have a job, but I think it’s important to have a good job and it’s important to have a good resume because you never know when an opportunity might come your way.”
“I have seen Mikel and Cortrell grow immensely over the past few months,” says Michael Sanderson, Manager of Skills and Development at the Sobey School Business Development Centre. “It’s inspiring to work with young people in OPtions: Youth who start the program with almost no business knowledge and finish as entrepreneurs – it’s a true testament to the power and potential of youth when they receive a little guidance and support.”
As part of the program’s work term component, Kelsie and Thomas helped launch Square Roots. They now oversee operations of the social enterprise as managers of business development – an opportunity that allows the two young men to gain valuable entrepreneurial experience.
On Nov. 26, Square Roots launched with 1 Day 2 End Waste. The event focused on promoting health and wellness, and featured Square Roots team members and Enactus Saint Mary’s students handing out bundles of vegetables to the community in three locations: George Dixon Centre, Victoria Park and on the Saint Mary’s University Campus.
Media coverage of Square Roots:
Here are the links to articles on Square Roots:
http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/817757251603 - It starts at the 50:49 mark (with a related project) and goes to until about 57:00.
In addition to this coverage, we are expecting a feature on Square Roots in an upcoming Halifax Magazine, written by Jen Taplin.
About Square Roots
Square Roots is a social enterprise aimed at fighting food insecurity, food deserts, and food waste in Nova Scotia through the delivery of bi-weekly affordable and healthy food boxes (primarily root vegetables). Square Roots is being piloted in Uniacke Square and among the Saint Mary’s University student population. Through a Service Canada-provided wage subsidy, Square Roots extends the reach of its social impact by employing at-risk OPtions Youth participants on full-time work placements.
About Options: Youth
Options: Youth provides new opportunities to at-risk youth in Halifax through mentorship, soft-skill building and employability training. Options: Youth features eight weeks of classroom training and a 12-week work-term. The program had tremendous success in its summer 2016 cohort, with 10 youth participants starting their own social enterprise selling jewelry and music in support of mental health awareness. The program’s success is made possible with the support of the Sobey School Business Development Centre and the dedicated Enactus Saint Mary’s team—a student-led group focused on creating positive change through social entrepreneurship.