“One of the most important things I’ve seen is the power of food being returned to the people. We are growing, eating, and sharing recipes and stories around the table. A table that welcomes everyone.”
Peer advocate, Dartmouth North Community Food Centre, Dartmouth, NS
Amanda Nickerson had no background in food or activism when she got involved in building an affordable produce market for the new Dartmouth North Community Food Centre. What the stay-at-home mother of two did have was a great deal of empathy, a love for Dartmouth North, and a keen understanding how transformative a place for food could be in the neighbourhood. “We were really excited to start it off,” Amanda says. “There wasn’t anything in this area for food security. But it was just as important to have a place to belong.”
That sense of belonging is something Amanda now spends a lot of time cultivating. After the market was up and running, she took the centre’s Community Action Training and became a peer advocate. She quickly learned that food security is a complex, multi-faceted problem, and that addressing it requires an equally complex and considered response. She now spends her time in the Community Action office helping connect her neighbours to the support and service they need. “But first, I’m a listener,” she says. “An active listener. A lot of people come into the centre and just want to be heard.” Her three-year-old daughter, Aubrey, has joined in too. She’s known as the centre’s “mascot,” Amanda says, opening the front door and greeting everyone who comes in.
Amanda is pleased to see the ripple effects of the work she and other peer advocates are doing. People who had previously been isolated now meeting up with new friends. More people wanting to get involved in social justice. “I know personally that these people might not have gone as far as they did,” she says, “without being able to chat with somebody over a bowl of soup.”