At The Urban Craze, food is our love and priority. It is a universal element that binds us all—we need it to survive, we enjoy it with loved ones, we create friendships over consuming it, and sometimes, we even fight over it. Beyond having a nice meal at a restaurant, do you ever think about where your food comes from and how it got to your plate on the dining table? Are there steps in the whole process that intrigue you? It sure did for us. We wanted to learn more about the sourcing, preparing, and consumption of food and how people interact with food differently by their accessibility and knowledge of it. So, we decided to partner up with FoodShare and here is why.
90 Croatia St
Toronto, ON M6H 1K9
FoodShare is a Toronto non-profit community organization, founded in 1985, whose vision is Good Healthy Food for All. They take a multi-faceted and long-term approach to hunger and other food issues. That is achieved by empowering individuals, families, and communities through their many programs/initiatives as well as advocating for public policies to improve everyone’s access to sustainably produced healthy food. This is not your typical “food bank” as it looks at the entire food production system, from growing, processing, distribution to purchasing, cooking, and consumption. If the budget is feasible, FoodShare will buy organic food from local farmers as a healthier choice and a way to supporting homegrown food. This holistic approach is what made us believe that the sustainability of healthy food access is considered and achievable by FoodShare.
One thing that jumped out at me in terms of their core values is the belief in universal programs. FoodShare initiatives are not limited to low-income individuals or families but open to everyone. This advocates healthy food for all and also removes the stigma for those who will be benefitting the most from the programs. Personally, I’ve always thought that there is a certain stigma attached to using a food bank type of organization. By removing this unnecessary connotation, it is much easier and more likely that people will make use of the benefits offered by FoodShare.
They offer many programs, including the following but not limited to:
• Good Food Café, which aims to serve healthy lunches in school cafeterias;
• Power Soups, which teams up with agencies that serve the homeless and under-housed to ensure that they have access to healthy food in the winter months;
• Aboriginal Community Kitchen, which targets students of Aboriginal descent and their families get access to healthy food;
• Kate’s Kitchen, which provides a support network for breast cancer survivors to connect and share over the cooking process;
• Baby and Toddler Nutrition, which provides peer-led programs teaching parents how to make healthy and cost effective baby food;
• Focus on Food Youth Internships, which offers marginalized youth six month paid internship experiences to build skills through job learning, training, and mentoring
Needless to say, our team’s values align with FoodShare’s. As we thought hard about how to celebrate our one-year anniversary, there was no better way than to offer up our time to help a non-profit organization we believed in. We wanted to give back to our food community which has been an absolute blessing to us. Our team decided to volunteer for the Power Soups program as it is right in the middle of winter now and we all know how much a good hearty soup can help warm up anyone’s spirits.
Robyn Shyllit, the Communications Coordinator at FoodShare, was very informative and showed us around the facilities, including the large warehouse where all the Good Food Boxes are packaged and shipped off (another FoodShare initiative). We were then down in the kitchen where we met Sibyl Pinnock, the lead chef. Not wanting to waste any time, we got right into the preparation of the ingredients that go into the soup. Nutritious vegetables like sweet potato, golden potato, and zucchinis were amongst many of the ingredients. We were responsible for peeling and cutting the vegetables into small pieces, which would then be pureed.
Sibyl was very humourous and patient so it was fun to talk to her. She also made sure we knew what we were doing. Other than Scott’s minor finger-peeling accident, everything went smoothly. We even met one of the youths that was doing his internship there as he curiously asked us about TUC. He said he has learned a lot throughout his experience with FoodShare and was clearly grateful for the opportunity given to him. The overall relaxed and helpful atmosphere made us feel right at home—a reflection of how inclusive FoodShare’s people culture was.
As the four of us prepared the food side-by-side each other, we all couldn’t help but notice how bond-inducing group cooking can be.. maybe even therapeutic. It’s a time where we put away our work, our phones and just focused on preparing a meal while enjoying great conversations with those in the kitchen. The feeling of family cannot be denied at FoodShare as we all come together for a single purpose of serving good healthy food for all.
Even though it was just a few hours on a Friday afternoon, the take-aways were enormous. It has made me personally more aware of issues surrounding healthy food and its accessibility. I became more conscious of the food choices I make—whether or not I am eating good healthy food. It has also made me want to give more of my time to FoodShare.
For TUC, it doesn’t stop there either. We will be raising money for FoodShare’s annual fundraiser event, Recipe for Change, which takes place on February 28, 2013. We want to contribute to the cause, however small it may be, as we want to be active participants in making healthy food more accessible to all. As well, feel free to say hi to Brian who will be present that night covering and snapping some great photos of the event.
So how can you help us in our goal? On Tuesday, February 26th for the whole day, for every “ReTweet” and “Share” on Facebook of our initial link we’ll donate 25¢ to FoodShare. Or even better, if you are interested in FoodShare and its cause, please visit their website at FoodShare.net. We would be ecstatic if you can support us here at TUC at raising money for FoodShare leading into Recipe for Change. Readers and friends, sincere thanks for your continuous support! We wouldn’t be anywhere without you guys. #TUC1YR
— theurbancraze (@theurbancraze) February 26, 2013
Many thanks everyone, this is how we did through Your help. With 100% of all proceeds going back to FoodShare. =)