Innovating to Improve Food Access for Montrealers
Launched in the summer of 2020, Carte Proximité, Fermière et Solidaire, is a project that tests and documents the subsidized purchase of local, healthy food through a food stamps approach. In concrete terms, it consists of a rechargeable card on which a monthly amount is deposited, which varies according to the size of the participating household, and with which this household can make food purchases at participating markets. The objective of the project is twofold: to improve access to fruits and vegetables while encouraging the local food system and supporting local farmers.
Visit carteproximite.org for all the practical information on how to use your card!
How to Get Involved?
- Receive a Carte Proximité – The cards are distributed to households experiencing food insecurity by community organizations in 10 participating neighborhoods. To see the list of organizations that distribute the cards, click here!
- Buy a Carte Proximité! By purchasing a Carte Proximité, you are helping to build a resilient local food system by supporting your local markets and ensuring that local farmers receive a fair price for their produce.
- Accept the Carte Proximité at your Montreal market or grocery stand
- Distribute the Carte Proximité to participants in your organization
Why Set Up Such a Project?
- 43.5% of the Montreal population has no or negligible access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Of these, 135,000 people live below the poverty line (DSP, 2013);
- Our fruits and vegetables travel an average of 2,500 km before reaching our plates (CAAAQ, 2008);
- Less than 5% of the fruits and vegetables consumed by Quebec residents is of local origin.
“Receiving the Carte Proximité allowed my family to visit the Marché (Solidaire Frontenac) for the first time, but more importantly, to choose fruits and vegetables (from Quebec) according to our tastes to cook recipes that we love. My kids were so excited to buy blueberries, they finished the container before they even left the Market!”– A Carte Proximité participant
Impact of the 2020 Pilot Year
- 810 prepaid cards distributed to food insecure households for a total of 2,226 people reached;
- 32 organizations from 8 Montreal boroughs distributed cards to their members;
- 8 markets with 13 outlets ensured that healthy, fresh, local food was more accessible;
- 90% of study participants reported experiencing food insecurity.
In order to document and evaluate the project, Carrefour Solidaire CFC collaborated with the Research Chair on Ecological Transition and formed a research committee to evaluate the impacts of the project.
Impact of 2022, Year 3 the program
- 837 prepaid cards distributed to households experiencing food insecurity for a total of 2578 people reached;
- 33 organizations in 10 Montreal boroughs distributed cards to their members;
- 21 markets with a total of 36 outlets made fresh, healthy and local food accessible.
- More than 90% of respondents said that the Carte Proximité allowed them to buy more fruits and vegetables.
For more information, the complete Year 3 program report is available online.
What Are the Effects for the Participants?
- On average, the surveyed participants’ fruit and vegetable consumption increased by 1 serving per day as a result of their participation;
- After the four months of the project, nearly 95% of the fruits and vegetables consumed by participating households were purchased fresh compared to 72% (fruits) and 82% (vegetables) before the intervention;
- The majority of respondents reported spending less on fruits and vegetables while increasing the amount purchased and the variety in their basket.
What are the Benefits for the Partner Organizations?
Carte Proximité has enabled organizations to:
- Strengthen their mission
- Offer more support services to their members
- Offer a better response their members’ needs
For the markets, it allowed them to:
- Better reach their target populations
- Source more local food
- Increase their sales
- Increase traffic and visibility
“It gives us the opportunity to fulfill our mandate. The partnership of our produce market with Carte Proximité really allows us to reach our target people and fulfill our mission.”– A partner market organization
Hôpital Solidaire: A Partnership between the Carrefour Solidaire CFC and Notre-Dame Hospital
In this exciting project, Carte Proximité cards are distributed by health care workers in the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud de Montréal network to patients receiving care. In addition to allowing them to make purchases at the various participating produce markets, these cards also allow participants to buy healthy prepared meals at the Notre-Dame Hospital cafeteria. In 2020, 230 people experiencing significant health issues and food insecurity were reached through this project.
- 83% of participants said they were less worried about running out of food after receiving the Carte Proximité
- 89% reported that the quality of their diet had improved
- 71% reported that their spending on food purchases had decreased significantly
- 85% reported that the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables they purchased increased
“I was pregnant this fall and throughout my pregnancy I was on the street, after relapsing and getting hit by a car. [This program meant that] I could go to the cafeteria for hot meals, and it encouraged me to come to my medical appointments more often.”– An Hôpital Solidaire participant