“I have a healthier, happier outlook and a place to fit in.”
Great things can happen when you get kids in the kitchen
When Holly’s mother signed her up for an after-school program at The Table Community Food Centre, she didn’t realize what an impact it would have on the rest of their family. After building new skills in preparing food, and learning about the importance of eating nutritious, locally-grown food, Holly brought this knowledge home to share with her family. On Mother’s Day, Holly prepared breakfast for her whole family without any help. “The strawberries were diced perfectly, the waffles—made from scratch—were amazing, and she was so confident and proud of herself,” her mother told us.
At the Community Food Centre, Holly could be herself, learn and grow in a safe and inclusive environment, and make new friends. The food Holly took home with her from the program fed her entire family twice a week, which helped stretch their food budget further and freed up time for her parents to focus on other tasks—a big help to busy parents working to support their family.
A community centre built around good food
The After-School Program is just one kind of program The Table CFC offers. Their food access programs, including community dinners and a Good Food Bank, help people living on low incomes access healthy food. Chef Judy works her magic at community meals and it shows -- 92% of participants say The Table provides an important source of healthy food. Their food skills programs often encourage the whole family to come out and cook together, whether it's Family Cook Night, Flavours from your Neighbours, Tiny Tastes, or Dads and Kids in the Kitchen. 56% of participants have noticed positive changes in their mental health since starting a program. The Table also has an engaged group of community members through their Community Action Network, advocating for better access to affordable housing among other local issues. It's a place where people feel like their opinion matters -- 100% of participants feel like they belong to a community at The Table.
Piloting a new approach
The Table CFC is located in the town of Perth, ON. Many residents of Perth struggle with poverty, which is exacerbated in its rural setting. People face additional challenges of isolation with limited access to transportation, social services, community resources, and healthy food. Social isolation can have especially damaging effects on both physical and mental health and wellbeing in a rural setting.
In 2011, Community Food Centres Canada partnered with the Perth & District Food Bank to launch The Table Community Food Centre. It was the second Community Food Centre to open in Canada, and one of two pilot sites developed to test the CFC model in new communities and determine if the approach could be scaled nationally. Perth & District Food Bank had been providing emergency food to people living on low incomes in Perth and surrounding areas for years, but they had a vision to meet those needs by offering more fresh, nutritious food options, and to harness the power of food to build a healthier, stronger community.