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Social enterprise growing grocery offerings in Sault Ste. Marie

Grocer 4 Good will install teaching kitchen, expand programming
Grocer 4 Good is relocating, enabling an expansion for the Sault Ste. Marie social enterprise. (James Hopkin/SooToday)

A social enterprise that helps people with barriers gain meaningful employment and skill development is expanding in Sault Ste. Marie.

Grocer 4 Good (G4G), which opened its doors in the spring of 2019, is moving to a larger location where the grocery store will install a teaching kitchen, and expand programming and partnerships.

It currently sells a variety of dry and fresh grocery goods, including locally grown and made products such as fresh produce and maple syrup.

The organization will move from its current downtown location at 133 Gore Street just a few doors down to 147 Gore Street, about a half-dozen blocks from the local Ontario Works office.

Lisa Vezeau-Allen, G4G’s founder and president of the board, said the move will enable the organization to broaden its mandate.

“As an organization, we wanted to continue our critical skills development and job training and connect healthy food preparation,” she said in a news release.

“The partnership with Ontario Works was natural as we are located in close proximity to their location, and can facilitate training for both our G4G staff, volunteers and Ontario Works recipients.

“We will also be able to offer fresh baked goods for sale and continue to expand our products, focusing on local as much as we can.”

In the conceptual stage for a number of years prior to opening, G4G became a reality after the Wal-Mart in downtown Sault Ste. Marie closed, leaving an opening for a new food enterprise to fill the space.

Vezeau-Allen came up with the idea to help people with barriers gain meaningful skills and employment after working for a number of years within the autism community.

As a social enterprise, G4G concentrates on providing work experiences and skill development to people with barriers to work, while also providing a service to the community. Profits are reinvested into the venture.

Melissa Ceglie, the innovation services manager with Ontario Works, hailed the benefits of the partnership with G4G.

“Ontario Works provides innovative training programs to assist individuals with securing meaningful employment,” Ceglie said in the release.

“Partnering with G4G to launch Community Take Out Days will offer individuals the opportunity to learn a wide range of skills such as food preparation, soft skills and customer service. We look forward to working in partnership with G4G to support community development and employment training.”

G4G said it would close at the end of day on Friday, Dec. 17 and reopen in its new location in the new year.