“Food is the hook. It’s the commonality.”
– Kristina McMillan, Director,
NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre Winnipeg
Community Food Centres provide access to high-quality food in a dignified setting. You can learn cooking and gardening skills there, and kids get their hands dirty in the garden and kitchen in ways that expand their taste buds and help them make healthier food choices. Community members find their voices on the issues that affect them, and people find friends and support.
Community Food Centres strive to address food insecurity, health, and social isolation though a mix of programs with food at their core. Striving to empower people affected by poverty to work together to find solutions that can create a solid foundation for lasting change.
Growing Access to Healthy Food
For most people, the journey to a Community Food Centre begins because of an immediate food need. Food access programs like nutritious community meals, healthy hampers, and affordable produce markets strive to meet the needs of people struggling with food insecurity in a welcoming and respectful environment that promotes healthy eating and encourages connection and mutual support. By focusing on sourcing local, seasonal ingredients wherever possible, these programs also support the local food economy and build an appetite for new foods.
Growing Food Skills
Skill-building programs like community kitchens and gardens and after-school programs promote healthy eating by teaching practical food skills and nutrition knowledge that help people navigate the dozens of food choices they face every day. By creating a fun and supportive environment around food, we promote learning and leadership among participants, empowering people to choose, plan, and cook healthy affordable meals.
By creating opportunities for people to develop food skills and knowledge, Community Food Centres encourage positive long-term improvements in people’s health, and aims to reduce the pressure on our health budgets over time.
And it doesn’t end there. During these programs, people can also visit on-site peer advocacy offices staffed by trained community members who can help them access housing, legal, income, and other supports; join a cooking group or social justice club; enroll their kids in a food-focused after-school program; or start volunteering in the garden. Quickly, a meal or market turns into a pathway to engagement and empowerment.