For the past year the seeds have been sown that will soon blossom into the opening of the Local Community Food Centre!
The 10-step instructions on the back of The Local Community Food Centre seed packet might read something like this:
1) Find a community where food security is a concern, and where tremendous momentum, potential, desire, and resources exist to mobilize citizens to do something about it – Stratford, Ontario.
2) Engage one exemplary organization that has been promoting food security in Canada’s largest city for thirty years – The Stop Community Food Centre in Toronto.
3) Offer The Stop’s successful holistic model of community gardens, cooking classes, nutritious drop-in meals, and healthy not-for-profit food services, to be replicated in a localized way as a division of a leading community charity – The United Way Perth-Huron. Sprinkle in a generous helping of support and guidance from a multi-sector community organization committed to fighting hunger – The Perth County Food Security Coalition.
4) Recruit a person to coordinate the project. Preferably, that person should live and breathe all-things-food, and will have demonstrated a strong commitment to food activism and education – My name is Steve Stacey, and I can’t even express how honoured I am to have been hired as the Director of this incredible project.
5) Collect input from all of the stakeholders in the food, social service, and broader community. Community consultation provides the vital nutrients to strengthen this project and allow it to thrive.
6) Prepare a site that includes: community gardens and a greenhouse for people to get their hands dirty growing their own food; a community kitchen to give folks the opportunity to cook healthy, yummy and affordable meals together, and a dining space where people can enjoy healthy and delicious drop-in meals together in comfort and without feeling stigmatized; and a Food Distribution Centre for taking-in and distributing large donations and purchases of healthy food to send out to our area’s not-for-profit food services.
7) Recruit volunteers, staff, and donors from the community – just as plants need sunshine to grow, the successful cultivation of this project will depend on contributions from our whole shining city!
8) Hold a fundraising event to build support and buzz around the project (we held a successful Grapes of Wrath fundraiser back in October, 2011, and there will be many more great events to come!).
9) After a year of hard work and cooperation, it will be time to harvest the bounty: the Community Food Centre doors should be ready to open in spring 2012!
10) Share what is learned with other communities via the creation of a new organization known as Community Food Centres Canada… and repeat as necessary!