The Community Food Centre model was developed at The Stop Community Food Centre in Toronto's Davenport West neighbourhood. Since the 1970s, The Stop has been reducing hunger, improving health, and creating real social change with a visionary program mix that has food at its core. Under the fifteen-year leadership of then-Executive Director Nick Saul, The Stop took steps to go beyond traditional methods of charitable food provisioning, and began to offer community kitchens and gardens, healthy drop-in meals, peri-natal support, outdoor bake ovens, affordable food markets, and community action and civic engagement programs.
The Stop continues to make a real difference in its community. And it has proven that food can be the beginning of an ongoing transformation in the health and quality of life of low-income communities. In 2009, in response to growing interest in The Stop's model, then-Program Director Kathryn Scharf co-wrote a Metcalf Solutions paper called In Every Community a Place for Food that lay out the rationale for and intricacies of the model, and proposed a way to bring that model to other communities. The core recommendation from the paper was to pilot the model in a few communities. In early 2011, this pilot project began in partnership with organizations in Perth and Stratford, Ontario. An online Knowledge Exchange resource site was created with the goal of providing a place where organizations across the country could access program resources and support.
The Table Community Food Centre launched in Perth, Ontario, in early 2012 with six staff, an exciting roster of programs, and a beautifully renovated space. The Local Community Food Centre in Stratford followed in November 2012 in a newly renovated facility complete with a greenhouse, new kitchen and food distribution centre. Both Community Food Centres strive to meet the most basic food needs of their low-income community members while improving physical and mental health, reducing social isolation, supporting local agriculture, and providing ways for participants to get together and make change in their communities.
The momentum generated in this pilot phase led to the creation of Community Food Centres Canada in July 2012. The mandate of our national organization is to work with partners to develop the Community Food Centre model across the country, and expand the capacity for community food security more broadly. In March 2013, we announced that three new centres would be developed in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood (launched September 2014), Winnipeg (launched February 2015), Dartmouth, NS (launched August 2015). In late 2015, we announced that two more Community Food Centres would open in Calgary (launched September 2016) and Hamilton in 2016. Our goal is to develop 10 to 12 partner CFCs across Canada by 2017.
We are also working with 100 Good Food Organizations in 56 cities across Canada, helping to increase their capacity to offer impactful food programs by sharing resources and offering a grants stream, an annual conference, and access to a network of like-minded organizations committed to using good food as a tool for change in their communities.
With these partners and allies in the farming, chef, health, educational, nonprofit, philanthropic and political sectors, we are working towards a fair and equitable food system. Join us!
Watch our intro video: