The Salvation Army’s Weetamah Corps in Winnipeg is helping families and individuals in need to access healthier foods through a partnership with Safeway grocery stores. Launched in April 2020, the Safeway Partnership Program was created to tackle the problem of food insecurity. Individuals and families who wish to take part in the program fill out a shopping list form, assisted by a Salvation Army staff member, with an allocated budget based on their family size. A family of three or fewer gets a $50 budget; families receive a further $25 for every two additional family members.

“With the grocery list, we try to keep the items vague on purpose so that when the individual is shopping, they have the freedom to choose the food item that works for them,” says Benjamin McNeilly, community ministries co-ordinator. “For example, we have milk on the list, but do not specify which brand or type.”

After they have completed their shopping list, program participants take it to a local Safeway and pick out the items themselves. They do not pay for anything unless they deviate from the items on the list or go over the established budget.

In the first year of the program, 385 order forms were completed, indicating that The Salvation Army helped more than 1,000 individuals.

“Since the introduction of the program, we have only heard amazing responses from the people on the receiving end, who said they felt this type of food assistance was helpful,” says McNeilly. “We are providing something that other food banks are not, bringing humanity to a system where often humanity is lacking.”

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