People and programs 03/02/2018

March is Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is all about unlocking the potential of food. It’s been great to see more people talking about a concept that drives our work in such a big way. We know food has unlimited potential to build health, belonging, and community. An amazing meal made with care and served with dignity can lead to new experiences, friendships, and opportunities. Our partner organizations prove as much in their kitchens and gardens every day.

One program in particular that demonstrates the transformative power of food is FoodFit, a healthy eating and exercise program for people living on low incomes. FoodFit recognizes that living a healthy lifestyle can be a real challenge when you don’t have access to adequate supports, skills, and resources—not just money to buy healthy food, but time to plan, shop for, and prepare meals, and access to affordable transportation to get to and from the store.

An approach that works: FoodFit’s impact

A supportive program like FoodFit is life-changing for community members who want to make positive changes to their health but face income-related barriers. After 12 weeks of cooking together and sharing nutritious meals, going for group walks, and setting and achieving goals, participants often report feeling healthier, more confident, and like they’re part of a community.

Since 2014, we’ve funded over 100 FoodFit programs at 21 partner sites across Canada. To date, over 1,300 people have completed the program.

Based on recent evaluation results, 78% of participants report improved physical health at the end of the program. Of those participants with a chronic health condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, 60% say they are better able to manage the condition as a result of what they learned at FoodFit.

“I’m losing weight, doing less grazing, my blood sugars are well under control and I feel 100 times better,” said one graduate from The Table Community Food Centre in Perth, ON.

82% have also noticed an improvement in their mental health. According to one FoodFit participant at the Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto: “Understanding the importance of healthy food choices (and making them) makes a happier me—someone who wants to walk, spend time outside my home with others, and sleeps better.”

More communities launching FoodFit in 2018

Starting this spring, FoodFit is rolling out in six new communities. We are thrilled to bring this unique program to even more Canadians in 2018 through our new partners:

  • At Grandview Woodland Food Connection, FoodFit will join a roster of community food programs—workshops, community kitchens, youth cooking programs, and community meals—  that engage and support people to access good food and build health.

  • At Community Connections Society of Southeast BC, FoodFit will help meet a community need for programs that combine healthy eating and cooking with affordable, accessible physical activity.

  • Scadding Court Community Centre has been running healthy food- and healthy living-focused programming for years in downtown Toronto. FoodFit will help Scadding Court promote affordable ways for community members to stay fit and healthy as they age and take care of growing families.

  • South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre works closely with clients and community members trying to manage chronic health conditions on a low income. FoodFit will provide an opportunity for the centre to take its nutrition education from a clinical approach to a community-based one, and create a gathering space in Wasaga Beach for people to share healthy meals together.

  • At The SEED, FoodFit will help support its mission to reduce barriers to food access, increase food literacy, and support community members living on low incomes in Guelph.

  • The Ville Co-operative runs programs that build health and wellness for community members in Marysville, a low-income neighbourhood in Fredericton. FoodFit will be a perfect complement to their existing programs that focus on physical activity and recreation, gardening, food, and empowerment.