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Harvesting Hope, Nourishing Community: Cultivating a Future Together

In 2012 Community Food Centres Canada partnered with the United Way of Perth-Huron to launch The Local Community Food Centre.  It was one of two pilot sites developed to test the CFC model in new communities, and determine if the approach could be scaled nationally. What they discovered was that this model works!

The Local CFC is now a part of network of 15 Community Food Centres across the country and as part of Community Food Centres Canada we work together with an additional 300+ Good Food Organizations across North America to influence provincial and national policy makers to develop more equitable and just social policies.

Vision: A Community where access to good food is central to health and treated as a basic right.

Mission: We build health, belonging and social justice in our communities through the power of food.

Action Plan: We solve food insecurity through programs that cover one or more of the following: access to food, acquisition of food skills, provision of education and community engagement.

Open doors and accessible low cost or free programs create a dynamic and mixed community where people interact and learn from each other in an accepting and caring environment.  There are no means tests, no questions asked and no barriers.  Everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

The Local CFC operates with a skeleton staff and over 100 dedicated volunteers.  Many community members begin by being a participant in a program and then choose to remain as part of the volunteer team.

Partnership, collaboration, and cooperation with numerous agencies and service providers throughout Perth County including the Childrens Aid, Ontario Works, Social Services, Shelterlink, Connection Centre, OneCare, the medical community and public health strengthens the impact that we can all have by working together.

A Community Centre Built Around Good Food

Programs at The Local CFC reduce social isolation in our community.  Our programs include seniors, newcomers to the county and those living in challenging and marginalized circumstances.  The opportunity to connect with others and participate in community reduces social isolation and has a demonstrated positive effect on mental health.  People from all circumstances and ability levels interact at our programs, breaking down barriers between demographic groups.

Access to Food:

  • Community Access Markets are offered in Stratford and St Marys. Food at these markets is sold at the price we pay. Food is sourced locally and primarily through a fair-trade auction.  These markets give people the opportunity to access high quality products at affordable prices, buy small quantities, try new produce and mix with others in the community.
  • Community Meals are served two to three times a week at The Local CFC in Stratford. Monday evenings a family style dinner is served and on Friday’s a market café provides a warm light lunch and salad.  There is no charge for community meals.
  • Throughout the week we also provide meals in collaboration with other programs such as the Connection Centre for those living rough, Children’s Aid Society, Alzheimer’s Society and other community-based organizations.

Acquisition of Food Skills:

Food skills programs encompass both the production and use of healthy foods.

  • An urban farm teaches food production in a sustainable, regenerative space and provides nutrient rich produce for our meals and markets. 50 Allotment community gardens provide community members with access to a garden space where they develop a new appreciation of the natural world and grow fresh produce to eat.
  • Kitchen Based programs build competence and confidence through hands on learning that includes lessons on how to select, shop for and prepare foods. Tailored for specific groups (8-10 years, 11-12 years, caregivers and their children, those living alone) these programs build practical skills, promote positive eating habits and kitchen safety while exploring the exciting world of food and the sharing of a delicious meal around the kitchen table.

Education and Community Engagement:

Education and engagement programs because an engaged community is democracy in action.

  • Community Action and Engagement training programs provide an 8-10 week learning opportunity for those with lived experience to develop self-advocacy skills in navigating social support systems. Many of those completing these courses have joined the group Empowering People in Communities (EPIC) which has identified, researched and sought solutions to issues and advocated for policy and systemic changes.
  • 13 Grandmother Moons, is a program developed in partnership with a local indigenous elder and designed to educate and promote inclusivity. A vulnerable person’s clinic is hosted at The Local CFC once a week to provide access to a social worker and nurse practitioner through social services and the medical community.  A weekly senior’s program in partnership with One Care Support Services invites those 55+ to participate in a gentle exercise program and creative social interactions before our Friday community meal.

Good Food Makes a Difference!

Good Food Principles

Take action from the individual to the systemic level.
We work to create many entry points for community members: from meeting basic needs to empowering people to choose, grow, and cook good food, to creating opportunities to get involved with the big-picture issues that affect our community.

Invest in the power of good food.
We strive to make good food a priority and to provide food through our programs that is delicious, healthy, sustainably produced, and pleasurable to eat.

Create an environment of respect and community leadership.
We provide opportunities for community members to use their strengths and contribute as volunteers and leaders.

Meet people where they’re at.
We avoid making assumptions about community members’ skills and goals. And we work with them toward the changes that they want to make, focusing on celebrating achievements big and small along the way.

Aim high for our organization and our community.
Our programs are designed based on current research and the growing body of knowledge from the community food sector. And we make sure that our partners have enough resources to create a positive impact. To stay accountable to our community, we are committed to measuring and communicating the impact of our work.

COOK

kitchen skills programming and community kitchens to help our community members improve confidence and increase enjoyment in the preparation of nutritious and delicious food

GROW

garden skills programming provides our community with more control over our collective food envirionment

SHARE

community meals and low-cost produce markets reduce the barriers many of our community members experience to accessing good, healthy food for themselves and their families

ADVOCATE

for access to good, healthy food for everyone in our community

Movements don’t emerge because everyone suddenly decides to face the same direction at once. They rely on social patterns that begin as the habits of friendship, grow through the habits of communities, and are sustained by new habits that change participants’ sense of self.

Charles Duhigg

CHANGE A LIFE TODAY

An important portion of The Local is funded by members of our community just like you! Even a small monthly contribution in dollars or hours can make a big difference in the lives of our fellow neighbours living with food insecurity.