A new Food Bank is making its home in Wetaskiwin. Rock Soup Greenhouse and Food Bank is trying to get up and running in the community.
Rock Soup has officially moved into their new location at 6501-47 Street Wetaskiwin, Alta., across from the Wetaskiwin Hospital. The 10,000 square foot property will feature a 3,000 square foot storefront and a 6,000 square foot, four-season greenhouse.
Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rock Soup, Craig Haavalsen, wanted to create a food bank that normalizes the process of receiving help and food bank donations.
Rock Soup will differ from other food banks in the area based not only on them being a secular, non-government organization, but also that Rock Soup will be set up to allow people to get their food in a grocery store style.
“It looks almost exactly like a grocery story,” says Haavalsen. “We wanted to stand out as a secular and non-governmental organization.”
Rock Soup’s four season greenhouse will be used to grow fresh produce for the food bank year round.
Haavalsen is excited to be able to work with the community to not only be able to provide for those in need, but create an environment that is a safe space that creates normalcy for those needing to use a food bank.
Haavalsen says that unlike other food banks, Rock Soup will not require individuals to fill out extensive and personal paperwork about themselves on why they require assistance to use the food bank.
He says, “it is cruel when you are looking at something like food,” to have to disclose all the reasons why you need assistance.
Having personally done work with the homeless population in Edmonton, Haavalsen says that he is cognizant of aspects Rock Soup has that other food banks don’t take into consideration. For example, Haavalsen plans to have availability of some pre-made foods and foods that don’t require cooking devices at Rock Soup.
“If you are given a whole bunch of cans to cook but you live in a tent,” Haavalsen says on certain things not adding up.
Rock Soup is working on partnering with other local food banks and community non-profits in their mission to provide for the community.
In addition to food, Haavalsen boasts that Rock Soup will have one of the largest selections of feminine hygiene products available for a food bank.
“It’s 2020, that stuff should be free for everybody. It is a medical need,” Haavalsen says.
Rock Soup is grateful for the diversity of cultures in the Wetaskiwin region and looks forward to working with community leaders to not only provide, but also acknowledge the cultural significance that food plays in individual’s lives.
“We recognize that food is not just food, but also a culture and spiritual practice and teaching.”
Come spring, Haavalsen hopes to establish a small orchard at Rock Soup that will fully accessible for all guests to pick their own fruits.
Rock Soup has also donated a spot within their location for Sexual and Gender Acceptance Wetaskiwin (SAGA) to use as a safe space office and computer use area. SAGA plans on working with Rock Soup on future projects.
Currently, Haavalsen is sleeping in a tent outside of Rock Soup to raise funds for the non-profit.
“Me and one of my dogs will sleep out there every night until we reach $10,000.”
The Go Fund Me campaign for Rock Soup can be found on their website at www.rocksoup.ca.
Haavalsen says Rock Soup is still looking for volunteers and donations.
“Food security can only work if we work together,” Haavalsen says.