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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.