When “Good food is just the beginning”

I am mindful that beyond the pleasure of sharing healthful recipes and “mouth-watering” food photos, are issues of food insecurity that according to Community Food Centres Canada’s latest reporting, affect 4 million Canadians. That’s millions of Canadians that cannot afford to buy the food they need to thrive and feel empowered to live healthily. Canadians affected by food insecurity also face factors beyond their control including the stigma and shame that can come with needing to ask for help.

“A place for food in every community”

Community Food Centres Canada reports poor physical and mental health, diet related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease that reduce quality of life and life expectancy, as well as a person’s limited ability to participate in society in a way most of us take for granted, as leading predictors of poverty and food insecurity. Add it all up and what you’ve got is a recipe for lost potential, compromised lives, fragmented, and disconnected communities, and that is in no way appetizing.

Getting to know Community Food Centres Canada

Community Food Centres Canada builds health, belonging, and social justice in low-income communities across Canada through the power of food. They work with “Good Food Organizations” like Eden Food for Change located in Mississauga, FoodShare in Toronto, Burnaby Food First in British Colombia, Midwest Food Resources in Saskatchewan, and others, to connect like-minded organizations across Canada and beyond in a collective commitment to achieving a healthy and fair food system. They invest in communities to support food education programs for children and youth, and FoodFit, a healthy eating and exercise program.

“Building health through the power of food”

The goal of Community Food Centres Canada is to use food as a pathway to physical health and social well-being. Together, they grow fruit and vegetable gardens at their centres, cook and share with the community, teach, and advocate for healthy food for all. They also work towards building a Canada where everyone has the means and knowledge necessary to access good, healthy food in a dignified way, and the opportunity to voice their opinions on the food issues that affect them.

Photo submitted by Community Food Centres Canada: Hamilton CFC – Intercultural Community Kitchen 2017

Sharing stories that impact lives

For two years now, I’ve had had the opportunity to attend Community Food Centres Canada’s Annual Food Summit as a guest at their opening sessions, and as a volunteer. This Food Summit takes place each spring and brings together outspoken food security advocates and staff from Community Food Centres and Good Food Organizations, with good food, health, and social justice as its focus. Here, you get a unique opportunity to learn and share ideas with individuals across Canada who are working in the community food security and health sectors. Moderated by Nick Saul, President and CEO of Community Food Centers Canada, this year’s #powerupfoodsummit opening session aimed to paint an inspiring picture of a fair food nation as community leaders articulated a path to get us there.

What sets Community Food Centres apart from other support organizations, is their focus on healthy food, dignified and welcoming spaces, and respectful service. They invest in communities, support communities, and advocate with communities by speaking out on the poverty and health issues affecting those communities. It’s also important to point out that income inequality, unaffordable housing and daycare, are factors that lead to the poverty in these communities. Community Food Centres Canada push for the public policy responses necessary to reduce poverty and hunger, knowing we can do better than hand-outs.

Photo submitted by Community Food Centres Canada: The Alex CFC – Community Meal 2017

To learn more about Community Food Centres Canada and how their programs are creating better access to healthy food, better food skills, better physical and mental health and better connection, visit cfccanada.ca.

“Who’s Your Food Hero?” #myfoodhero

A hero is defined as: a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character; a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal. Who’s your food hero? My niece Ayane is mine – and I’m hers! Read our story. Write your own! #myfoodhero

This year I set out on a mission to find answers to an important question: “what does it take to meaningfully engage young children while growing their potential as healthy eaters and leaders?” I’ve learned that when you empower a child to make healthier lifestyle choices through experiential learning, highlighting healthy eating, nutrition, cooking skills and active living, these things can make a difference in promoting and improving their quality of life. You might remember Ayane from our Cooking Green Goodness cartooned series where we made healthy green smoothies, zucchini pizza bites, and California rolls. Ayane and I have teamed up to share our story with Community Food Centres Canada, an organization taking a multidimensional approach to programs that create individual and community change. Community Food Centres Canada believe that “food has the power to build health and community, and inspire people to become engaged in issues that matter to them.”

This holiday season I’m making a donation on Ayane’s behalf to Community Food Centres Canada to support vibrant centres that build health and connection in low-income neighbourhoods. Join me! Read our story and share yours. Make a donation on behalf of your food hero at myfoodhero.ca.

TV Personality, Michelle Jobin shares great memories that involve family and food growing up, but the food hero in her life is her husband Toby.

Kyler shares: “I usually approach new situations a bit apprehensively,” he explains. “But I went there and saw all these random people–little kids, old people—sitting around tables, gardens in the front. There’s natural light. And coffee—sublime coffee!—in real mugs. It was honestly the first time I ever really felt a sense of community.”

Julie shares: “My father, Eric, grew up on his family’s homestead in Calabria, Italy.  His family grew what they ate and appreciated the value of hard work and celebrating by eating as a family.  My Dad tells us the story about how he saved up for a month for a piece of veal (a very expensive cut of meat).  When he finally saved up enough money and bought the veal, he shared it with his entire family.  With five other siblings, he hardly got to try the long-anticipated piece of veal.”

Sheara shares: “When I was a child, I always knew that food and community went hand in hand but I never knew exactly why or how. As I got older and started discovering and investing in my relationship with food, I started to understand why I had always made that connection and that was because of Lisa.”

Ayane shares: “Sticky rice hands” is one of my favourite cooking moments with my Auntie Eartha! It is our inside joke. Either one of us only need to utter those three words and we’ll both start to giggle. READ MORE…