Food insecurity

Halifax cafe offers tokens to help feed those in need

For $2 or $5, anyone can present a token at The Nook and receive a meal


The Nook hopes to circulate the tokens through Halifax to those in need.   Will Gordon

The Nook on Gottingen Street is the latest business in Halifax to embrace food tokens, launching their program on Monday.

Tokens can be bought at The Nook and exchanged for a meal.

For café co-owners and spouses, Nicole Myles Brook and Brian Brook, this is their way to give back to the community.

“The goal of the program is to get food into the bellies of hungry people in the most accessible way possible,” Myles Brook said.

The tokens cost $2 or $5. For $2, a person gets a white coffee and bagel token. The black token, which costs $5, allows a person to choose a meal from the day’s selection, like a sandwich or a soup.

Myles Brook said no questions will be asked regarding the tokens; they are available for anyone to purchase or redeem. She added that The Nook has been allowing customers to buy tokens in advance. One out-of-province patron even “offered to send funds,” she said.

Myles Brook said the café won’t profit from this endeavour. Buying the equivalent of the $2 coffee and bagel token is around $5 to $6, before tax. The point, she said, is to help the community.

“This program seems like a long time coming,” Myles Brook said.

Square Roots program

Last March, Square Roots, part of the Saint Mary’s University branch of Enactus, launched their own token program. Kaitlyn Amell, one of the token program managers, said they started with two restaurants partners and now have 10.

The Square Roots token program focuses on combating food waste. Partnering restaurants offer, at specified times, the extra food they would otherwise toss at the end of the night. The organization provides $5 meal tokens at locations like the SMU Student Union building.

“There’s nothing wrong with it,” Amell said of the food. “It’s just that they wouldn’t want to reuse it the next day.”

Square Roots’ partners include Ray’s Lebanese Cuisine near Bayers Lake and the King of Donair franchise locations.

Amell said Square Roots wants to sell 2,200 tokens by March and would like to expand into other provinces.

Food security, which is about having a stable, healthy food supply, is an issue throughout Nova Scotia. In a May 2017 report comparing the provinces on a range of food security topics, Nova Scotia received a C on its household food security and ranked seventh out of 10 provinces in its ability to provide food to households.