Before submitting a Letter of Interest please review this Community Food Centre (CFC) Backgrounder.

Those that may have read it previously should review it again as some things may have changed. The backgrounder describes the basic parameters of the CFC model and relationship with CFCC, as well as touches on the operating standards that must be upheld by each CFC.

It is important to be clear on these elements, as it will help you assess whether or not this kind of partnership is right for your organization. 

If you have any questions, please reach out to:

Shannon McCauley
Senior Manager, Partnership Development 
416-531-8826 ext. 263


The table below provides a high-level overview of the partnership criteria that will be reviewed from those who proceed to the application phase.  However, this is a helpful tool to review prior to submitting a Letter of Interest, as well, to assess your organizational readiness for the Community Food Centre model.  

Each of these criteria will be elaborated on under the Basic Specifications further below.

ORGANIZATION - The organization has charitable status and a Board of Directors that is supportive of the application (if not applicable, you have proper governance and oversight mechanisms).
POPULATION & GEOGRAPHY - The organization is located in a town or city with a population of 50,000+ within Canada.

Though this is our general guideline, an exception may be made for First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities or communities where there is a large Indigenous population. Please reach out to CFCC to discuss.
WORK IN LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES - The organization has a track record of serving a low-income community and has trusted relationships with this community.
DEMONSTRATED NEED - The organization can demonstrate community need.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT - The organization demonstrates that there is interest in this initiative and no significant opposition to it.
PHYSICAL SPECIFICATIONS - The organization has or can secure the physical space required for programs, including a commercial kitchen (10-15 people), dining space (80-100 people), offices, and a garden (onsite or close to site).
SHARED VISION - The organization shares the Community Food Centre vision, strategic objectives, and Good Food Principles (see the appendices in the 2017 Partner Selection Guidelines and CFC backgrounder).
PROGRAM AREAS - The organization is committed to offering programs in the areas of healthy food access, food skills, and education/engagement.
DISTINCT IDENTITY & BRAND - The organization is willing to name and brand the place and programs as a Community Food Centre.
LEADERSHIP - The organization has senior leadership who can provide oversight to the CFC.
IN-KIND SUPPORT - The organization will assign in-kind support to the project proportionate to their size (e.g. program staff, bookkeeping, space, equipment).
EVALUATION - The organization is committed to implementing evaluation tools and contributing statistics to a shared evaluation framework.
OPERATING STANDARDS - The organization is prepared to be assessed annually against the Operating Standards for CFCs and will use the results to set goals for their organization.
FUNDRAISING - The organization has or is willing to work to develop the capacity to raise funds for the CFC in order to properly resource it so that it meets the above operating standards.
COLLABORATION WITH CFCC - The organization is prepared to work collaboratively with CFCC around programming mix, fundraising strategies, evaluation, and communications.
HARMONIZING THE CFC WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION - The organization is willing to embrace the CFC as a key initiative of their organization, including making any necessary adjustments to the larger organization to ensure the CFC fits in - and does not compete - with other programs.


There  are many models of community food programs that exist, and our partners adapt their programming to their local needs and communities, however each community food centres have certain common elements that they share.  We are looking for those that have as many of these elements as possible, or have them within view, and the application is based around speaking to them. The following is a summary of the basic specifications and operating standards.


A Community Food Centre is “a place for food”. At the heart of each CFC is a dignified physical space where people feel welcome, respected and safe, and where they can access good food, fun and empowering healthy food programs and the social connections that make for happier, healthier communities  Offering programs in an integrated space allows for synergies and cross-pollination to happen between programs. Thus it is important that the organization have or be able to secure, in a relatively short time frame, the minimum physical space requirements to deliver programs:

  • Public-health approved commercial grade kitchen (accommodates 10-15+ people)

  • Dining/meeting space (accommodates 80-100+ people)

  • Offices for staff

  • Gardens on site, or close to the site

  • Outdoor bake oven or greenhouse are an enhancement, but not necessary

It should also be bright, well-kept, outfitted to be warm and welcoming, and set-up for sociability. The space also needs to have a permanent presence.  This is the space that will be dedicated to, and named as the Community Food Centre.

If you do not already have such a space, the closer you are to securing one, the stronger your application will be (showing a plan for costs, construction and resource development, as well). From time to time we are able to consider requests for capital investments for renovations via a separate process.

Please note that while Community Food Centres sometimes incorporate emergency food programs, such as food banks, it is important that CFCs not be defined spatially or culture-wise by this approach.  CFCs try to work to overcome the stigma that can often come with more traditional charitable approaches and attempt to shift the organization to a place that prioritizes the dignity and involvement of participants and works through a social justice lens.

To read more about the importance of providing beautiful, welcoming physical space read: How to build healthy, connected communities? Start with dignified spaces.


The program priorities differ from community to community and are informed by local needs, service gaps and demographics; however, the CFC model relies on the interplay between programs in three areas:  

Food Access Programs provide access to healthy food to those in need in a respectful and dignified manner. ex.: community meals, affordable produce markets, healthy food bank

Food Skills Programs work to promote empowering healthy food knowledge and skills, primarily in the areas of gardening and cooking. ex.: community gardens, community kitchens, after-school programs, perinatal nutrition programs

Education and Engagement Programs work to give individuals and community’s voice and agency on food security and poverty issues. ex.: from formalized programs (e.g. peer advocacy, community action groups) to more of an events- or campaign-based approach  (e.g. public education workshops and events, large-scale policy campaigns)

Organizations will be committed to offering programs in all three areas and they should meet as many of the CFC strategic objectives as possible (see Appendix B). Ideally programming is offered by dedicated CFC staff, though there is some flexibility to meet the standard through in-kind contributions (e.g. staff from the larger host organization) or via partnerships.


In order to offer service and accountability, CFCs need to be adequately staffed and staff need to perform at a level of competence to ensure impact, respect and efficiency. Minimally, 3 FTEs need to be assigned to offering programs in the three program areas listed above.  Ideally, depending on the size of the community, CFCs are working toward a staffing level closer to 5 (or more in larger cities).


CFCs have great potential to move the dial on a number of outcome areas, such as healthy eating, social and civic engagement. Evaluation is fundamental to each CFC and its respective programs. We strive to develop a culture of learning, reflection and adaptation, and do this through strong systems of measuring impact that are present at each CFC.

CFCs will be asked to track key program outputs and conduct program and agency-level surveys. CFCC can provide evaluation support, including providing logic models and program-level evaluation tools that can be adapted, setting-up and training staff on output tracking systems, and administering the agency-wide annual survey.


Fundraising and communications programs will vary significantly depending on the existing capacity of the partner organization and the resource needs of the CFC. However, it is important that all CFCs have plans and resources in place to ensure that there is a minimum and sustainable level of financial support to support the programming that takes place under the CFC umbrella, and that communications efforts supports local and national fundraising efforts and are compatible with our shared messaging.


Our funding alone will not be enough to fulfill the CFC operating budget, which can range from $300,000-600,000+ annually depending on the size of your organization and what existing capacity you have. Each partner organization will need to have a plan to provide the remaining budget. Minimally, a plan for how the CFC will be resourced over 3-5 years that outlines the in-kind and/or dedicated resources needed to execute the plan will be required in the early stages of the partnership. From time to time partner organizations work collaboratively with the CFCC fundraising team in an effort to take a coordinated approach to donors (e.g. in the case where a national donor might want to donate locally).


A distinct identity will need to be developed for each CFC, including a name, wordmark (with the words “Community Food Centre”) and a logo. In some cases, mostly with larger organizations, they will adopt the CFC as an arm of their larger organization. In this case the CFC is recognized as “a project of” the larger host organization. In other cases, mostly with smaller organizations with a community food program mandate, the organization adopts the CFC name as the name for their entire organization. Both options are available.

CFCC works with the partner organization to develop and promote the CFC brand, including promoting the CFC’s’ work through a variety of mechanisms that are created at various times throughout the partnership, including a page on the CFCC website that describes the CFC; stories from the field that are included in CFCC’s monthly e-newsletter and social media; national press opportunities; and national materials – such as brochures, reports and videos on the CFC movement.

It is also important that the partner promotes the CFC brand through an online presence (e.g. website/webpage for the project, social media accounts), local media coverage, and by collaborating with CFCC and partner CFCs on shared engagement and education campaigns and activities.


Our intention is to work toward a long-term partnership with a core base funding commitment of $75,000 annually, which may be supplemented with additional or special funding, as available  (e.g. corporate partnerships, donor directed funds or project-specific grants)

On top of bringing annual funding, there are  a variety of resources and forms of support that CFCC can provide in the areas of program planning, evaluation, communications, fundraising, and knowledge exchange. The desire and need for support will vary from organization to organization and as such it will be offered on an as-needed basis. The partner organization can also expect some financial reporting and regular check-ins.

All partners will be required to meet the minimum operating standards. These operating standards are intended to protect all CFCs to ensure that there is adherence to the model, values and brand. They are designed, however, to offer some flexibility for different levels of capacity and size, with minimums and “optimal” standards defined for each area.  Annually each partner organization will work with CFC to review operations against standards. The operating standards are a combination of both quantitative and qualitative measures in areas such as program mix, staff and volunteers, physical space, food quality, community responsiveness community leadership, and fundraising and communications. The operating standards have largely been summarized in this document. If you wish to see a copy of the Operating Standards please email or call a Program Manager.

The partner organization will be connected to a community of practice of other CFCs and Good Food Organizations. There will be several opportunities to connect and to share best practices, including at the annual Food Summit, through listservs and online shared learning sessions.