This month marks five years since we first opened the doors at Community Food Centres Canada. We're celebrating by taking time to reflect and thank some of the incredible organizations and individuals whose passion and commitment are making a difference in their communities and powering our food justice work across the country.
We want to recognize our partner organizations—the eight Community Food Centres and 100+ Good Food Organizations that are increasing access to healthy food and building health and connection through the power of food, and contributing to a growing national movement for food justice for all.
Increasing access to healthy food and bringing people together
Every Canadian should have access to enough food for a healthy life.
The Stop Community Food Centre has been a leader in providing dignified access to good food for more than 30 years. From their weekly affordable Good Food Market, to the delicious and nutritious community meals served right to the table in a room buzzing with energy and pride, The Stop is meeting the immediate food needs of its community while opening doors for people to get involved in many other ways.
You’ll find that same spirit at the seven other Community Food Centres that have opened their doors since 2012. The Alex CFC in Calgary provides a welcoming space for diverse communities to gather, share healthy meals and perspectives – a space where leaders from the Aboriginal and Filipino communities came together in 2016 for a potluck that helped them start a dialogue to address a history of conflict.
Carrefour alimentaire Centre-Sud, a Good Food Organization in Montreal, makes healthy food the easiest, most accessible choice for everyone, especially socially isolated and marginalized community members, by offering Fruixi, a bike-powered mobile fresh food market that meets people where they are—childcare centres, affordable housing, hospitals, and neighbourhood parks.
And at the brand-new Hamilton Community Food Centre, the Intercultural Community Kitchen brings newcomer women from the Middle East to South Korea to cook, try out new flavours and ingredients, and learn about each other’s cultures. Says Narmin Mzouri, Food Skills Animator: “The Community Food Centre provides a space for the Kurdish and Arabic community to feel safe and to build community.”
Building better physical and mental health
Our partner organizations offer close to 100 different food skills programs that help community members to build food skills and improve their health and well-being.
FoodFit helps remove the barriers to healthy eating and physical activity facing people on low incomes, and has inspired people like Gord and Tanya to make lasting and manageable changes to their diets—from cooking more meals at home to walking together regularly to encouraging family members to follow their lead.
At Winnipeg’s NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre, which was launched in 2015 through a partnership with the NorWest Co-op Community Health Centre, community nurses and other health centre staff come to community meals and after-school programs to reach people who might otherwise feel intimidated or reluctant to access health services.
At the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, the newcomer garden project brings together new Canadians from Nepal, Bhutan, Uganda, and Afghanistan to grow and share fresh produce, play a leading role in the development of the garden, and connect with their neighbours.
Susie, a program participant at Dartmouth North Community Food Centre, wrote a thank-you letter that says it all: “Coming here, my physical and mental health have improved. Getting healthy meals and affordable food has made it so I have a choice about what goes into my body. Mentally, I feel better because I’m no longer stressed over pain. I feel better because I have a place other than my apartment to go, to eat, to be around people.”
Empowering people to advocate for change
We need the voices of those most affected by poverty and food insecurity at the table when we're talking about solutions. Our partners provide spaces and opportunities for people to learn about and take action on the issues they care about most.
Community members at the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre raised their voices last fall during their Speak Up Show Up campaign, whose goal was to increase voter turnout in Dartmouth's municipal election. They hosted a Voter Pop-up Booth and an Election Day parade, and reprised the campaign for the provincial election last spring.
At the YWCA Peterborough Haliburton, a passionate group of social justice club members raised awareness of food and income issues in their community through their 2015 Nourish Food talk series.
Nadira explains how her work as a peer advocate at the Regent Park Community Food Centre in Toronto has made her feel more empowered, and helped community members access the services and supports they need. “I became a peer advocate after taking Regent Park Community Food Centre’s community action training. I was excited: I earned my Master’s degree in Social Work in Bangladesh, and helping others has always been my calling. But as a new mother in a new community and country, I felt isolated. When I started the training, I knew I was on the right path to helping others and myself."
We’re incredibly grateful to work alongside so many passionate, committed leaders in the community food sector. Join us to learn more about what you can do. Want to volunteer? Reach out to a Community Food Centre or Good Food Organization near you.