Charity Spotlight: This post was provided by Chloe Brown, Communications and Marketing Coordinator at Community Food Centres Canada, as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.
Food is never just food. Food sits at the heart of so many deep-rooted issues of our time. Food is also a powerful tool with which to build hope, health, and equity. At Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC), we work with food organizations across the country to bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food for all.
Bringing Good Food to Canadian Communities
The way we address issues of hunger and health in low-income communities isn’t working. The number of people experiencing food insecurity is rising, rates of diet-related illness are at historic highs, and social isolation is on the climb.
CFCC is a national leader in building organizations and programs that increase access to healthy food, food skills, physical and mental health, social inclusion, and civic engagement. There are currently eight Community Food Centres at different ages and stages of development across Canada. We also support 75 Good Food Organizations across the country with tools, resources, trainings, and program principles that foreground respect and empowerment. Together, these organizations are working to improve the health and well-being of Canadians living on low-incomes, and building a stronger food movement.
How? Through a proven program mix with food at its core.
1) Improving Food Access: Focus on healthier food
“It’s always a good meal, it’s healthy. For some people here it’s the only good meal they’ll have this week. I’m glad this place is here.”— participant at The Local
Approximately 4 million Canadians are food insecure, and emergency access to healthy food is a critical need across the country. Community Food Centres meet those needs in a dignified and welcoming way through programs like healthy meals, food hampers, and affordable produce markets. And it’s helping: according to our 2014 shared impact report, 92% of participants identified their Community Food Centre as an important source of healthy food.
2) Teaching Food Skills: Tools for a healthier life
“I’ve noticed that my kids, since I’ve been coming here, are eating more fruits and vegetables because of things I share with them … It’s not just for me, but for my children too.” —participant at The Stop
Learning healthy food skills is key to promoting healthier eating habits. Research shows that involvement in food preparation at home is linked to lower fat intake and higher intake of key nutrients. At Community Food Centres, participants are accessing food and gardening programs that build skills, confidence, and health: in 2014, 54.5% of participants said their involvement in programs improved their physical health.
3) Fostering Connections: A place where people belong
“A lot of times, I sink into a depression and if I’m alone I forget to cook. Coming here, I have more family style dinners and I have comfort because of it.” — participant at The Table
Living in poverty or isolation can have lasting effects on mental health. Coming together over a healthy meal or working together in a kitchen or garden can reduce social isolation and lead to new supports. At Community Food Centres, people make friends, find people they can count on, and feel connected to their neighbourhood. Because of this, 87.9% of Community Food Centre participants feel they belong to a community at their CFC.
People in low-income communities across Canada are struggling with alarming rates of diet-related illness, food insecurity, and isolation. When our neighbours suffer, we suffer. And it doesn’t have to be that way. CFCC funds healthy food and empowering skills programs that improve people’s health and build hope, having a local impact on a national scale. Good food can mean many things: community, hope, health, and empowerment, to name a few. We believe good food is a catalyst for change, bringing people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate.
To learn more about CFCC, please visit their charity profile page >>