Skip to main content
People and programs 06/07/2024

At Harmony Community Food Centre (CFC), a program of South Riverdale Community Health Centre in East York, Toronto, a remarkable fusion of culture, community, and cuisine takes centre stage. Our recent visit was more than a glimpse into daily operations – it provided insight into the heart of a tight-knit community.

Upon entering Harmony Community Food Centre, we quickly noticed that the space is both cozy and functional, clearly cherished and utilized by many different groups in the neighbourhood.

The air carried the melody of a Chinese seniors' group singing karaoke from the basement. A couple of pianos stood against one wall, next to flipcharts with notes from bingo night. The commercial kitchen opened to the main room, where tables and chairs were set out for the cooking session.

Soon volunteers and participants began to arrive, grabbing aprons for the kitchen.

The community kitchen facilitator, Tharaniga, had a quiet confidence that put us and the other participants immediately at ease.

Tharaniga shared that she went to school for nutrition studies and in the past, she had a cake business. Now, she is in charge of menu planning and guiding community cooking sessions at Harmony CFC.

Tharaniga works closely with health promoters and dietitians who play a key role at Harmony CFC to help community members learn new recipes, improve their cooking skills, expand their palettes, and stay healthy.
On this particular visit, the kitchen session welcomed about 15 people from diverse backgrounds, including participants recently arrived from Bangladesh. After a warm welcome, the facilitator and volunteer assistants showed us the ins and outs of an air fryer, a tool that we used to cook a portion of the meal.

As we started cooking, the kitchen buzzed with energy and excitement. We worked together prepping pita chips, chickpea patties, Greek potatoes, tzatziki, and chocolate chip cookies. Amidst the chopping, mixing, and frying, conversations flowed freely while we enjoyed each other's company.

This experience underscores the profound impact of food. The cooking session is a glimpse into what makes community food centres so vital: they are not merely spaces for eating but places where food serves as a bridge that connects people.

Our visit to Harmony Community Food Centre was a powerful reminder of the importance of community, nutritious food, and social justice. Places like these give us hope for a future where everyone can access good food and a sense of belonging.

Harmony CFC, a program of South Riverdale Community Health Centre, in partnership with Community Food Centres Canada, hosts a wide range of community programming, including community kitchen sessions, garden club, outdoor food market, kids’ cooking program, and Mind Your Food (a program connecting food and mental well-being).

back to top