"I've learned how to cook healthier meals, tried and loved lots of new foods, and been given opportunities to better connect with my community."
A place where youth have opportunities to lead
When 15-year-old Sage started working at the Natoaganeg Community Food Centre as a summer student helping out in the garden, she didn't realize what a big impact the experience would have on her life. Helping to maintain the garden, she's learned a lot about what it takes to turn tiny seeds into rows upon rows of colourful, nutritious food. Her involvement with the centre began when she started serving as a youth advisor for the project. Since then, she's learned to cook, tried lots of new healthy foods, and felt more connected to the Eel Ground community she grew up in.
A community centre built around good food
The community garden is just the beginning at the Natoaganeg CFC. Their food access programs — from healthy, culturally-relevant community meals several times a week to their Good Food Market — are designed to meet community needs and and make it easier for people living on low incomes to access healthy food.
Thanks to the CFC's school partnerships, kids in the community have plenty of opportunities to build skills and try new foods. The School Food Program offers daily healthy breakfast and lunch to more than 100 students at Natoaganeg School, while the Lettuce Turnip the Beets summer program combines gardening, music, and good food into a fun and interactive weekly event at the Natoaganeg School garden.
An important partnership
The Natoaganeg CFC took root after community members in Eel Ground First Nation, a Mi'kmaq First Nation community of 977 people, came together to talk about how to address the serious issue of food insecurity, which affects 40 per cent of households in Eel Ground. With support from the Chief, Council, and community, and significant funding from Canadian Feed the Children, they created a space in 2016 and started running programs focused on increasing food access, food skills, and education and engagement opportunities.
The partnership with Community Food Centres Canada will provide core funding and support to the CFC to build up programming and further increase community members' access to food, resources, and supports. The Natoaganeg CFC will also join a network of nine other Community Food Centres that are building health, belonging, and social justice through the power of food.