What does Community Food Centres Canada do? Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) builds health, belonging, and social justice in low-income neighbourhoods through the power of food. We do that in three ways: We build and support Community Food Centres and programs that bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food for all. We inspire and empower almost 140 Good Food Organizations to offer respectful and responsive food programs in their communities and become leaders in the good food movement. And we speak out for policies that reduce poverty, food insecurity, and poor health, and create opportunities for our communities and concerned citizens to take action. How do you choose your partners? We partner with organizations that demonstrate a local need for food programming, have access to an appropriate physical site, demonstrate local leadership and fundraising capacity, and share our values. Reach out to find out more about your organization becoming a Community Food Centre. What is a Community Food Centre? A Community Food Centre (CFC) is a welcoming space in a low-income neighbourhood where people come together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food. CFCs provide emergency access to high-quality food in a dignified setting. People learn cooking and gardening skills there, and kids get their hands dirty in the garden and kitchen in ways that expand their taste buds and help them to make healthier food choices. Community members find their voices on the issues that matter to them, and people find friends and support. CFCs offer multifaceted, integrated, and responsive programming in a shared space where food builds health, hope, skills, and belonging. What kinds of programs do Community Food Centres offer? Community Food Centres offer innovative and responsive programming in three key areas: Food access programs provide emergency access to healthy food in a respectful and dignified manner. Program examples include community meals, affordable produce markets, and healthy food distribution. Food skills programs build knowledge and skills, primarily in the areas of gardening and cooking. Program examples include community gardens, community kitchens, after-school programs, and perinatal nutrition. Education and engagement programs work to give individuals and communities a voice and agency on issues that matter to them, like food insecurity, poverty, and health. Examples of programs include peer advocacy offices, Community Action Training, and social justice clubs. How is a Community Food Centre different from a food bank? Food banks and Community Food Centres take different approaches to supporting people who are struggling with poverty and food insecurity. Food banks focus on meeting an emergency need for food by providing hampers of non-perishable food items. While an increasing number of food banks are starting to offer a wider selection of higher-quality fresh food, many still give out mainly processed foods, which do little to support people’s health. Many food banks use means testing, which can be stigmatizing for the user. And many food banks have narrow opening hours, which can make them difficult to access. The Community Food Centre is rooted in the idea that good food is a powerful connector, and central to health. The CFC is located in the heart of a neighbourhood, and is like a community centre where all the programs bring people together around good food. CFCs offer healthy meals several times a week that are served in a welcoming space and feature the high-quality ingredients. CFCs also offer a number of empowering skills programs that provide hands-on opportunities for people to get involved and improve their health. And they provide peer support, and create ways for people to get involved in community action, and as volunteers. Through these programs, CFCs aim to build better skills, health, and belonging. CFCs are properly resourced with five core staff to run programs. What issues do CFCs respond to? How do CFCs impact their communities? We’ve got complex, joined-up food issues in Canada. We live in a wealthy country but Canadians who can’t buy in are being left out. Millions of Canadians struggle with poverty and food insecurity and can’t afford the food they need to thrive. They often face stigma and shame when they need to ask for help. Poverty and food insecurity are leading predictors of poor physical and mental health. Diet-related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease reduce quality of life and life expectancy, and cost our health-care system billions of dollars every year. People living on low incomes are more likely to feel lonely, isolated, and disengaged from their community. Increasingly, people living on low incomes do not have a place at the table, and the resulting inequality is having a serious effect on the fabric of our communities. The CFC model proves that dignified community spaces and programs that use good food as a tool to bring people together can significantly improve the health and well-being of low-income individuals, and help communities thrive. By providing places of possibility that recognize that everybody has value and something to contribute, Community Food Centres empower people to get involved in their communities, and to push for the policies that can create a healthy and inclusive country.