The Stop Community Food Centre
From its origins as one of Canada’s first food banks, The Stop has grown into a thriving community hub where neighbours participate in a broad range of programs that provide healthy food, foster social connections, develop practical skills, and promote civic engagement. In addition to a food bank, The Stop operates community kitchens and gardens, cooking classes, drop-in meals, perinatal support, outdoor bake ovens, farmers’ markets, and community advocacy programs.
In 2009, The Stop opened The Green Barn, a sustainable food production and education centre with a 3,000-square-foot greenhouse, commercial kitchen, classroom, sheltered garden, and composting facility. A school program offers hands-on opportunities for children to learn about the food system. Underlying all of The Stop’s efforts is the view that food is a basic human right.
From a pool of interested communities, The Stop will choose two project sites in Ontario to develop Community Food Centres built around its four pillars of complementary programming:
- emergency food supplies to meet short term needs
- community kitchens that provide a local gathering place and nutritious food for vulnerable individuals, and community gardens that provide seedlings for private gardens and a place where people can grow their own food
- opportunities to participate in local decision making, including meetings with local officials and business owners
- education programs on gardening and food issues for local students
These pilot sites will be mentored by The Stop for the initial two years to establish viable business models (using a blend of government and community support as well as social enterprise approaches) with the goal of achieving sustainability. The grant will be used to support The Stop’s “Replication Team” to provide training and fundraising support, create a robust learning platform on food hubs and undertake evaluation to assess impact.
In late 2011 The Stop launched an online learning network to share resources and foster dialogue about community food centre programming.
- Visit www.thestop.org for more information