DEBRA’S STORY OF LEADING THE LOCAL IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

Dear Neighbour,

We need your support!

I first came through the doors of The Local almost five years ago as the new Executive Director. Since then, until recently, each day I got to witness friendships being cultivated in the kitchen, dining room, garden, and market. Nourishing and healthy food was cooked and shared daily, and our gardens were enjoyed by many. We worked to provide the best of our region’s rich agricultural abundance in a way that both supported the farmers and farm labourers that grew it while providing increased access to that bountiful harvest to those in our community who encounter barriers.

The pandemic, however, has required us to rethink and reimagine how we deliver the services and programs that were so effective in making those neighbourly connections in the past. Not all of the needed adjustments have been easy for us—as I’m sure, they’ve not

been easy for you either. We miss all of you and feel your absence deeply. Our best work has always been bringing people together through the power of food. The pandemic has exposed the shortfalls of our inadequate support systems, both for organizations and for individuals, and we look forward to the future when we can come together to build a stronger, more connected, and more resilient community for all.

Through all of this, there has been much for which to be thankful. Our community garden has never looked better or produced more food. Work continues toward fully realizing the dream of an edible forest and, together with our indigenous neighbours, we are developing a medicine wheel garden, traditional ceremonial infrastructure, and decolonized meeting spaces where personal healing, as well as healing between nations, can begin to take place.

Our community meals program which, in better days, had invited community members across the socio-economic spectrum to share a meal and conversation in our dining room, is currently being picked up curbside or delivered to homes. We miss the opportunity to sit down at shared tables and enjoy a meal together with all of you. Our low-cost community access market looks a little different with safety protocols in place and shoppers encouraged to move quickly instead of lingering. We can no longer offer our “pay what you can” cafe under our current COVID protocols.

Our cooking programs are also adapting to a more virtual environment and our local advocacy services are again being offered.

With demand for our services increasing by 200%, we will be challenged to meet the need moving forward. Please consider donating to The Local Community Food Centre this holiday season. Your contribution will help more of our neighbours write their stories.

Sincerely,

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