Feeding Haligonians; Fighting Food Waste
By: Valerie Caswell

 

My name is Valerie Caswell and I’m from St. Stephen, New Brunswick. This is my second year with Enactus SMU and I have been a part of the Square Roots team since September. When I first heard about Square Roots I loved the concept behind it and felt it had amazing potential, tackling major issues we see everyday such as food waste and food insecurity. I was eager to join the project and share some of my own personal ideas. I started out doing much of the marketing, promoting the brand and building a list of subscribers. I then took on more and more responsibilities and now act as a Co Project Manager with Ryan Carmichael.

Square Roots is a social enterprise which makes excess fruits and vegetables from Nova Scotian farms available to people at an affordable price. We sell 10lb bundles of food at community centres in Halifax for $5-$10, depending on what each individual can afford. This initiative takes place every third Saturday of the month. We work towards reducing food waste on farms while making healthy food available to everyone in the community.

Over the past few months we’ve been working hard to expand Square Roots, in developing a new initiatives of similar mandates. This week we launched the Token Program, which focuses on finding innovative ways to reduce food waste, while offering affordable solutions to a healthy food supply. We created The Token Program to combat food waste in restaurants, find a health food solution for people tight on time and money, and increase local restaurants’ profit margins.

We partnered with local restaurants, where Tokens can be used as a method of payment to receive a complete meal. One meal is redeemable with one token. These meals include menu items that were prepared in advance, overestimated to sell, and would otherwise go to waste at the end of the day.

We will be selling our Tokens on the Saint Mary’s campus for $5 each. We are promoting them to be used in two way: gifted to individuals in need or redeemed personally. We’re first launching the program in partnership with Basha Mediterranean Restaurant (Inglis Street, Halifax), and are currently in the processes of adding local restaurants!

If you would like to get involved with the Token program or any other Enactus Saint Mary’s projects, please contact us at SquareRoots@enactussmu.ca

 

Your Future is Bright:  OPtions Nova.
By: Meredith Drost

A project where second chances really mean a clean slate. Where your past is the past and your future is bright. We are a group of students that see beyond your story and get to know you for who you are and what you can do.

Three years ago, we began delivering workshops at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro, Nova Scotia. On a weekly basis we travel to Truro to deliver workshops that range from business essentials and marketing skills to improving upon stress and self esteem; working on building the necessary skills our participants need to see themselves in a new light.

To kick off 2017, myself, Sarah, Zach and Abby organized an activity that gives us more insight into our participants goals, where our participants were able to create a vision board. For the theme of the board we asked them to create it based on something that represents how they are taking control of their lives and where they see their future with their work, education and relationships. I have personally been in the prison several times over the last two years and the results from this activity have been one of my favorite. Our participants created six collages that gave us a deeper understanding about where these women want to be and what we need to focus on to help them achieve their goals in this program. As we went around the room to hear the descriptions of the images you could truly feel the passion in their voices. This gave the participants an opportunity to get out of the everyday prison mentality and think about their future. One of the participants felt comfortable enough to share their passion for music, along with the skills that they have learned over the last few months. The next lesson we attended both herself and her teacher came down to actually play for us. We had another express her excitement for health and fitness, which led to her sharing that she would like to open a gym. She has been able to take steps during her incarceration to become a personal trainer and hopes to gain the skill and ability to pursue this venture upon release. By knowing their individual interests, we can take that information and apply it into the program. Another benefit of the vision board is that it helps us get another step closer to finding suitable mentor to be a pen pal during incarceration and a support system upon release.

Although being a part of Nova requires a lot of work and commitment, getting to see the women gain confidence in themselves and their futures makes it all worth it.Bright OPtions: Nova. A project where second chances really mean a clean slate. Where your past is the past and your future is bright. We are a group of students that see beyond your story and get to know you for who you are and what you can do. Three years ago we began delivering workshops at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro, Nova Scotia. On a weekly basis we travel to Truro to deliver workshops that range from business essentials and marketing skills to improving upon stress and self esteem; working on building the necessary skills our participants need to see themselves in a new light. To kick off 2017, myself, Sarah, Zach and Abby organized an activity that gives us more insight into our participants goals, where our participants were able to create a vision board. For the theme of the board we asked them to create it based on something that represents how they are taking control of their lives and where they see their future with their work, education and relationships. I have personally been in the prison several times over the last two years and the results from this activity have been one of my favorite. Our participants created six collages that gave us a deeper understanding about where these women want to be and what we need to focus on to help them achieve their goals in this program. As we went around the room to hear the descriptions of the images you could truly feel the passion in their voices. This gave the participants an opportunity to get out of the everyday prison mentality and think about their future. One of the participants felt comfortable enough to share their passion for music, along with the skills that they have learned over the last few months. The next lesson we attended both herself and her teacher came down to actually play for us. We had another express her excitement for health and fitness, which led to her sharing that she would like to open a gym. She has been able to take steps during her incarceration to become a personal trainer and hopes to gain the skill and ability to pursue this venture upon release. By knowing their individual interests, we can take that information and apply it into the program. Another benefit of the vision board is that it helps us get another step closer to finding suitable mentor to be a pen pal during incarceration and a support system upon release. Although being a part of Nova requires a lot of work and commitment, getting to see the women gain confidence in themselves and their futures makes it all worth it.

If you would like to learn more about OPtions:Nova and how you can get involved, email Meredith at meredith.drost@gmail.com.

 

Canvassing: A Series of Fortunate Events
By: Ryan Carmichael 

In preparation for our awesome Square Roots launch event last November, we had to make plans to get people to show up. An obvious but necessary aspect of any successful launch event. Part of this plan was door to door canvassing and all the sore knuckles that came with it. Though I’ve done plenty of canvassing before, whether it be selling coupons for an upcoming hockey tournament or participating in a cut-throat elementary school competition to win the highly coveted class pizza party, this time was a bit different. This time my parents couldn’t pay for any excess merchandise that I had because I had an upcoming “test” to study for. Nevertheless, I was up for the challenge and headed out to the great city of Halifax, that I had lived in for all of two months.

There’s no way around it, canvassing can be tough at times and takes a lot of dedication (or at least fear of the Enactus presidents getting mad at you). For every hundred doors that you knock on, you may only get 20 people to answer and 10 to sign up but when you’re offering a service that’s as awesome as Square Roots, those 10 people may make it all worth it.

Myself and other members of the Square Roots canvassing team have met some pretty incredible people on our canvassing journeys. As we explained our social enterprise and the potential social impact that it could have, the lovely people standing at the door suddenly had a smile on their face and started asking questions. In these moments, all the Enactus buzzwords like sustainability and triple bottom line became accurate ways to describe our social enterprise. This buzzword accuracy was made possible by the incredible people who are so involved and passionate about their communities, not only signed up to be part of the Square Roots community but also helped us in our canvassing endeavours. Some people were so kind as to offer tea while I pitched low cost, healthy food bundles and a scarf before I moved on to the next house. Others actually joined our canvassing efforts by walking us through their communities and strongly encourage their neighbours to sign up for Square Roots.

Between the incredible Enactus team and the support of some amazing members of Halifax communities, we were able achieve our obvious but necessary goal of getting people to show up to our launch event, “1 Day 2 End Waste”. Taking place at the George Dixon Centre, Saint Mary’s University and other locations in Halifax, we were able to distribute 3000 pounds of vegetables that would have otherwise gone to waste. As well as generating a great deal of excitement and support for Square Roots. We also had soup and were covered by national news outlets (aspects that didn’t need to be included in this post  but are fun to brag about).

On behalf of the Square Roots and Enactus Saint Mary’s team, we would like thank all those who helped make 1 Day 2 End Waste the huge success that we hoped it would be. From everyone who showed up to those who shared or typed about us on social media, you are amazing and we couldn’t have done it without you. Be sure to look out for our canvassing teams in your neighbourhood and we can’t wait to do it all over again on January 28th. Hope to see you there! #SupportYourRoots

If you are interested in signing up for or learning more about Square Roots please contact us at SquareRoots@enactussmu.ca

 

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