By Clare Wagner
For 30 years, a team of dedicated staff and volunteers at Neighbour to Neighbour Centre have been meeting the issue of food insecurity head on. What started as a small food bank has evolved into a vibrant community centre. Neighbour to Neighbour works to alleviate and prevent poverty by offering access to social supports, tutoring programs for children, utility subsidy programs, counselling and a host of other interventions. We empower people with the tools and support they need to improve their health, confidence, hope and sense of belonging.
Building on our commitment to addressing food insecurity, Neighbour to Neighbour is proud to announce that the Community Food Centre movement is coming to Hamilton. Neighbour to Neighbor was chosen from 25 locations across Ontario to partner with Community Food Centres Canada to open the Hamilton Community Food Centre.
An alarming number of our neighbours live in a state of food insecurity because of poverty
The need for this type of centre is acute. An alarming number of our neighbours live in a state of food insecurity because of poverty. The Rolston neighbourhood, located on the Hamilton Mountain has been identified as one of 11 high priority neighbourhoods in the City. This is where 35% of residents live on incomes below the poverty line, including 49% of children under the age of six. At the same time, both mental and physical health issues stemming from social isolation and poor diets are on the rise for people of all income levels.
A Community Food Centre provides a dignified and welcoming space for the community to tackle issues of poverty, hunger, poor health, childhood obesity and social isolation
The Community Food Centre approach is a progressive compliment to traditional methods of charitable food distribution. A Community Food Centre provides a dignified and welcoming space for the community to tackle issues of poverty, hunger, poor health, childhood obesity and social isolation. Programs are offered in a shared space supporting individuals and families as they learn new food skills, improve their physical and mental health, find supports and become empowered and engaged. The result: a healthy, equitable and more connected community.
Neighbour to Neighbour has acquired a 6,000 square foot facility at 310 Limeridge Road West on Hamilton Mountain in the Rolston neighbourhood. We are excited to be able to integrate the Hamilton Community Food Centre with our existing programs to enhance our work and impact. Whether it is through an after school cooking program, a senior’s lunch, a healthy food and fitness program or a peer advocacy group, we are going to engage people in new ways that build health, connections and hope. We also commit to working beyond just one neighborhood to be a model and a resource for the whole city.
The Hamilton Community Food Centre will have:
- A community kitchen that will not only serve meals but will provide a space for people to share and develop their food skills and cultures while making friends
- A community garden that will yield fresh produce while people learn about growing food and getting active outdoors
- After school sessions and summer camps for children and youth
- Fresh food markets that will provide local, seasonal food at an affordable price
- Fitness and health education programs
- A community bake oven that will serve as a hub for social events and gatherings
- A hub for the Hamilton Community Garden Network and Hamilton Edible Education Network connecting people throughout the city to gardens and food literacy programs
- Partnerships to provide mobile programs and training throughout Hamilton while bringing valuable health and wellness programs to the Hamilton Mountain
- Community advocacy offices and a Social Justice Club connecting people with social support along with the tools and skills to have a voice on the issues affecting them most, including housing and social assistance.
This work will contribute to a more healthy, sustainable and just food system. At the same time, we know that the lack of access to good, healthy food is tied to poverty issues and can’t be solved with changes to the food system alone. One organization or community can’t tackle the food system and poverty issues affecting us – they have to be addressed locally, provincially, and nationally. We look forward to adding more voices to the great advocacy efforts in Hamilton while becoming part of the national voice of Community Food Centres Canada. At the Hamilton Community Food Centre, we will use food as a powerful tool to impact individual and community health while advocating for long term changes to address the injustices surrounding us.
The Hamilton Community Food Centre will be a space where all people can come together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food for all
The Hamilton Community Food Centre will be a space where all people can come together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food for all. We are excited to open in the fall of 2016 as the 8th Community Food Centre in the Canada.
Do you want to get involved? To find out more, contact Clare Wagner, Director of Community Food, at email@example.com or 905-574-1334 x 205
After working at botanical gardens, Clare focused on garden outreach and education in Hamilton as Green Venture’s Community Garden Program Coordinator. She is now Neighbour to Neighbour Centre’s Director of Community Food shifting her focus to social services and community development centred around food. Clare is passionate about working with her community to create a healthy, dignified, and just food system.
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