Hot food not an option

Vendors at Farmer's Market told to stop selling hot food to students

Paulina’s Curry Mix reported a 40 per cent decrease in sales at the Queen’s Farmer’s Market after organizers banned the sale of hot foods.
Paulina’s Curry Mix reported a 40 per cent decrease in sales at the Queen’s Farmer’s Market after organizers banned the sale of hot foods.
Hospitality Services issued a statement citing inadequate holding temperatures as the reason why vendors were asked to discontinue the sale of hot foods.
Hospitality Services issued a statement citing inadequate holding temperatures as the reason why vendors were asked to discontinue the sale of hot foods.

A new policy is barring Queen’s Farmer’s Market vendors from selling hot food to students.

Vendors say they received letters earlier this month informing them that the sale of hot foods would no longer be permitted at the market.

John McKegney is the catering manager with Sodexho, the on-campus food service provider.

“The Farmers Market at Queens is a place for students to purchase locally produced and locally sourced foods,” McKegney wrote in an Oct. 13 letter addressed to Igor Trotchine.

Trotchine is the owner of Taste of Russia, a company that has sold hot meals at the market for three years.

“Over the last couple of years our Market has strayed from its original goal of providing a space for growers and producers as local to Kingston as possible … Due to the Governing Principles of our market we can no longer allow hot food products such as yours to be part of our Market here at Queens,” the letter read.

McKegney’s letter stated that Taste of Russia was no longer eligible to participate in the market on Wednesdays.

Anton Sakhnevich, who manages the Taste of Russia booth at Queen’s, contacted McKegney to appeal the request. He said it was agreed that the booth would be allowed to stay at the market if they no longer sold hot food.

“I can’t help feeling that I’m letting people down,” Sakhnevich said. “It’s not my fault but it’s still frustrating.”

The letter stated that produce for the market must come from within a 100-kilometre radius of Kingston. The market also allows producers to “add value to their food product through hands on processing (e.g. homemade, candies, pies, cakes, cookies, jams, or relishes.)” Sakhnevich said the ban on hot foods will change if students speak up.

“I think that will depend on the student body,” he said. “The market is here for students.”

Local restaurant, the Pasta Shelf, started selling hot meals at the market this year, but the company dropped out after the new policy was put in place.

“We weren’t selling enough [cold food], so we pulled out,” owner Marco Venditto said.Currently the market has 18 registered members, down from 20 vendors in September.

The Farmer’s Market started in 2006 with eight vendors in front of Stauffer Library. A partnership with the AMS allowed the market to move from outside Stauffer Library to outside the JDUC this year. Vendors reported that the move increased traffic.

In winter months, the market moves into the Lower Ceilidh of the JDUC.

The Kingston King Street Farmer’s Market is one of the oldest in Canada.

Since 1801, the market has been assembling outside of City Hall to provide local alternatives to the commercial food industry.

Paulina’s Curry Mix owner Vipin Kumar reregistered for the market this year in hopes of bringing in more business.

Kumar said he’s seen a 40 per cent drop in profits since the policy to ban hot food came into effect.

On a regular Wednesday, Kumar said his butter chicken would sell out by 2 p.m. Since he’s been barred from heating up the dish, a significant amount is left unsold when he leaves at 4 p.m.

“Cold food in this weather — they don’t want it,” Kumar said. “It’s been really tough.”

Kumar said market organizers told him the new policy was put it place because vendors weren’t using local produce in their hot items.

He said Paulina’s has always included local ingredients.

“They said their original theme of the Farmer’s Market was to keep local farmers, local food … Even I buy my ingredients local, like from Tara Foods [on Princess Street],” Kumar said.“If it is health reasons, we will understand, but the health department has already came here twice and they have approved us.” Yesterday, Hospitality Services general manager Joli Manson released a statement to the Journal via email.

“The recent change in selling hot prepared meals at the Farmer’s Market @ Queen’s was initiated by a concern expressed by a [Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington] health inspection about inadequate holding temperatures for the foods being sold,” the statement read. “The vendors corrected the issue and a second visit by KFL & A found that the vendors were compliant.”

Certain vendors have been unaffected by the policy, like hot dog stand Scottie's Street Treats.

Owner Scott Hallman said his stand was one of the exceptions to the policy.

“Obviously [the other vendors are] upset with it but they have adjusted and they’re here,” Hallman said last week. “It was a little rough at first, they had people coming up and walking away, but … they’ve actually done a lot better.”

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