The Local Community Food Centre opened its doors in 2012 as a place where people come together to access, share, cook, grow and advocate for good food for all.
Although Stratford is known as a city of great food, we have a hidden problem of hunger. About 11% of people in Perth County, disproportionately represented by low-income households, don’t know where their next meal will come from.
The Local addresses this immediate need in our community by increasing dignified access to healthy food through our free community meals. We also source, store and distribute mostly local, mostly fresh, healthy food to over 65 community organizations that feed those in need.
But, that’s just the beginning! We flip the traditional model of food charity as a hand out on its head by engaging community members in programming that prioritizes good health, skill building, community involvement and advocacy. We host free programs in our kitchen, greenhouse and gardens to help foster good food skills—life skills necessary to take power over one’s own diet— and even to help develop professional skills to secure employment. We also offer peer advocacy and social justice programs that inspire those who are marginalized by low-income to advocate for themselves, campaign for progressive policy changes, and build a more inclusive and equitable community in which no one suffers from poverty and hunger.
In just 3 years, we’ve had a measurable impact in our community. Check out our Impact Summary from 2014, that highlights what we’ve accomplished in the last year.
The bigger picture
4 million people are food insecure in Canada, which means that they don’t know where their next meal will come from. Addressing this immediate need is urgent, and it is part (but only part!) of what we do.
People are hungry because they are poor. The established annual poverty line in Canada is $23 000/yr. A person working full time on a minimum wage job earns $20 000/yr. A person on social assistance receives $8 000/yr. A person on ODSP receives $13 000/yr. These numbers indicate that there is a systemic issue, which is why The Local CFC never loses sight of the ultimate goal of achieving progressive policy change. Food should be a basic human right.
The Local is not working alone! Stratford was selected by Community Food Centres Canada as the location of one of two pilot sites to test the model of CFCs across Canadian communities. Stratford was selected both because of the level of food insecurity and the support from a strong food community. The movement is now spreading fast! We are 1 of 5 CFCs currently being developed in Ontario, and there will be 15 CFCs from coast to coast by 2017! The CFCC movement envisions a Canada where everyone has the means and knowledge necessary to access good, healthy food in a dignified way, the ability and opportunity to be heard on the issues that affect them the most and to raise awareness on the inadequacy of our government’s current response to food insecurity, inequality and poverty.