People and programs 06/25/2018 For National Seniors' Month, we're celebrating the contributions seniors are making in our communities, and asking ourselves how our society can evolve to become more inclusive and accessible in the coming decades. Magic, a community member at The Local Community Food Centre, recently wrote staff this letter. As a younger man, I lived a busy life on a farm. After moving to Stratford a few years ago, I met my girlfriend and she introduced me to The Local. At first, I would just come to meet her after her program, but I found I really liked how I felt when I walked through the doors. It was so positive and welcoming. Everyone remembered my name and would always greet me as a friend. I started joining in programs and coming to the community meals. Now I’m here almost every day, and when I’m not taking part in the activities, I am volunteering in the storehouse or gardens, or making herbal tea for the folks that come to the Community Access Market. I’ve found companionship and feel comfortable socializing when I’m here. All of my life, I have never been recognized as anything but a fool. I moved through life believing I was one. They see something in me here that I still don’t really see in myself, something that the outside world has never seen – I’m valued, I’m accepted for who I am and the skills that I bring. I’m worth something here, and I no longer feel like a fool. The staff are incredible. The Local is incredible, and I’ve even begun to like kale. Yours truly, Magic. Support seniors' programs like this one. Donate today. -- Background Seniors are a fast-growing population who will make up a quarter of Canadians by 2036. Research shows that seniors are at greater risk of becoming lonely and socially isolated — they have a harder time accessing social spaces due to declining income, lack of mobility, living alone, and the moving away or loss of friends and family. According to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey, one-fifth of adults aged 65 and older feel a lack of companionship, left out, or isolated from others — and that impacts their health and well-being in big ways. Our partner Community Food Centres and Good Food Organizations are creatively using food to tackle this growing trend of social isolation among seniors. By offering fresh fruits and vegetables, and inviting spaces to connect with others, they're using the power of food to build up seniors’ sense of belonging, and grow their physical and mental health.