Food, Family, Fun - Community Kitchen Program

Organization Sponsor: The Stop Community Food Centre

URLs: 

Program Description

Food, Family, Fun is a community kitchen open to parents and caregivers with children aged 0 to 6 years. Participants learn about healthy eating for the family in a practical environment by preparing and sharing recipes. The program is free and childcare is provided. This group meets Fridays from 1:30PM to 5PM at 1884 Davenport Road. Session running dates vary.

Philosophy

We believe that healthy food is a basic human right. We recognize that the ability to access healthy food is often related to multiple issues and not just a result of low income. At The Stop, we’ve taken a holistic approach to achieve real change in our community’s access to healthy food.

We strive to meet basic food needs and, at the same time, foster opportunities for community members to build mutual support networks, connect to resources and find their voices on the underlying causes of hunger and poverty.

To register for an upcoming session, contact Elle at 416-652-7867 ext. 221 or [email protected].

The Stop is the founding partner site of Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC), a national organization that’s driving the development of CFCs across the country. Along with other Community Food Centres in Perth, Stratford, Regent Park, Winnipeg and Dartmouth, The Stop is helping to increase access to healthy food for low-income Canadians while proving that food can be a transformative force in our communities. For more on Community Food Centres Canada and their work developing CFCs across the country that will work together towards measurable change, visit www.cfccanada.ca and follow them on Twitter at @aplaceforfood.

Funding Sources: 
Strategies For Sustainability: 

The Stop has two locations: at our main office at 1884 Davenport Road we provide frontline services to our community, including a drop-in, food bank, perinatal program, community action program, bake ovens and markets, community cooking, community advocacy, sustainable food systems education and urban agriculture. The Stop’s Green Barn, located in the Wychwood Barns at 601 Christie Street, is a sustainable food production and education centre that houses a state-of-the-art greenhouse, food systems education programs, a sheltered garden, our Global Roots Garden, community bake oven and compost demonstration centre.

Impact Of Program: 

A Community Food Centre (CFC) is a welcoming space where people come together to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food. CFCs provide people with emergency access to high-quality food in a dignified setting that doesn’t compromise their self-worth. People learn cooking and gardening skills there, and kids get their hands dirty in the garden and kitchen in ways that expand their tastebuds and help them to make healthier food choices. Community members find their voices on the issues that matter to them, and people find friends and support. CFCs offer multi- faceted, integrated, responsive and prevention-focused programming in a shared space where food builds health, hope, skills and community.

Evaluation Tools: 

Tips, tools, and telling the story:

Understanding and reporting on the collective impact of Community Food Centres across Canada is key to our evaluation strategy. To that end, we have developed an evaluation framework that will allow us to measure and demonstrate impacts in areas such as health, social inclusion, civic engagement, and sustainable food systems, and to continuously improve our interventions in order to maximize social impact. This module is a way for us to share our experience with evaluation thus far and to help other groups along their path of creating an evaluative organizational culture.

In this module, Meredith Davis, Community Food Centres Canada’s Research and Evaluation Manager, describes the process that CFCC went through to create its own national evaluation strategy, including creating a theory of change, developing indicators, designing effective evaluation tools, developmental evaluation (DE), social return on investment analysis (SROI), evaluating in a respectful and dignified manner, and building an evaluative culture.

The breakdown of the five parts are as follows:

  1. Introduction, context and developing an evaluation strategy
  2. Addressing strategic objectives: theory of change, program logic models and matrices
  3. General principles and evaluation tools
  4. Indicator selection, developmental evaluation, and SROI
  5. Communicating findings, evaluating respectfully, and building an evaluative culture

In addition to our own resources, we’ve included other documents that have helped to shape our evaluation thinking from the McConnell Foundation and others as part of the downloadable resources for this module.

Key Elements Towards Success: 

The Stop strives to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds health and community and challenges inequality.A key tenet of The Stop's approach is that community members must be involved in making decisions about how our organization operates. When program participants are involved -- as front-line volunteers, program advisory committee members, gardeners or cooks -- the stigma associated with receiving free food is often diminished or erased. While our food access programming helps confront the issue of hunger, it also creates opportunities for community members to forge their own responses to hunger. We believe this approach will end the way charity divides us as a society into the powerful and the powerless, the self-sufficient and the shamed. At The Stop, we are creating a new model to fight poverty and hunger: a community food centre.

Challenges To Meet Them: 

Urban food poverty in the developed world is one of the great underestimated challenges of our time. Community Food Centres Canada provides ideas, resources and a proven approach to partner organizations across Canada so they can establish responsive, financially stable Community Food Centres. These centres work to bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food. With our partners and communities, we are working toward a healthy and fair food system. The Pod Knowledge Exchange is a project of Community Food Centres Canada. It's a place where we can share ideas, tools and resources with the community food sector at large. For ease of navigation we've structured this information in the form of learning modules which may contain videos, written resources and podcasts. By collecting this information in one place, we hope to create an engaging and practical virtual library that can help strengthen the vital work that is happening in this sector, from coast to coast.

Big-picture change starts at the grassroots level, and requires practical tools and a space for idea exchange. In the way that pea pods serve as the containers for both nourishment and the seeds to new life, it’s our vision that the materials that The Pod contains will support others engaged in their own communities and catalyze the growth of effective programs that address the root causes of hunger and poverty.

Length and Stage of Project: 

In 1998, when Nick Saul became executive director of The Stop, the little urban food bank was like thousands of other cramped, dreary, makeshift spaces, a last-hope refuge where desperate people could stave off hunger for one more day with a hamper full of canned salt, sugar and fat. The produce was wilted and the packaged foods were industry castoffs—mislabelled products and misguided experiments that no one wanted to buy. For users of the food bank, knowing that this was their best bet for a meal was a humiliating experience.

Since that time, The Stop has undergone a radical reinvention. Participation has overcome embarrassment, and the isolation of poverty has been replaced with a vibrant community that uses food to build hope and skills, and to reach out to those who need a meal, a hand and a voice. What was once a simple food bank is now a thriving, internationally respected Community Food Centre with gardens, kitchens, a greenhouse, farmers’ markets and a mission to revolutionize our food system. Celebrities and benefactors have embraced The Stop’s vision because they have never seen anything like it. Best of all, fourteen years after his journey started, Nick Saul is launching this neighbourhood success story into the wider world.

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