Amanda, Dartmouth

"I’ve always believed in the power of a meal. Whenever my friends come over we chat over food. It’s a great opening to other subjects, too. But I’d never seen it in action every day before the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre opened up a few years ago.
 
I was a stay-at-home mom to a toddler, and I got involved because staff at the Family Centre where I went suggested it. I think they saw leadership potential in me.
 
We started by setting up the fresh, affordable produce market. It was so exciting. There isn’t much healthy food in this area. We have lots of fast food restaurants, but grocery stores are out of the way. And it’s really hard to get the bus in and out.
 
The market flourished because people saw that we sell great produce at cost. We even chop up the vegetables for those who might have trouble doing it themselves. But also, they saw that we aren’t there to tell them what to eat. We meet them where they’re at.
 
After that I did some training and became a volunteer peer advocate. I like it because I’m a listener. I never say I have all the answers because often it’s not about the answers. It’s about listening and actually hearing. Then I’ll help them identify goals or navigate the system. Now I’m on staff and help to run the FoodFit program.
 
I’ve seen this place help our community change. People here have often felt unheard and unacknowledged—on a personal and a government level. We have been told “no” so often. But now we see the power of food being returned to the people.
 
I see it in myself, as well. I started coming to the Community Food Centre as motivation to be social but it’s given me so much more. People here believed in me before I believed in myself. It made me realize that I can do big things in small ways."