Small Ideas: $10,000

Description

The Youth Community Food Centre is a project initiated in 2017 through a collaboration with Campus Co-op, a student housing co-operative at the University of Toronto (U of T). Campus Co-op has provided Regenesis with an in-kind lease of a commercial kitchen and dining hall formerly used by residents at 596 Spadina Avenue. As a recognized Good Food Organization, Regenesis will work with Community Food Centres Canada to help bring this project to life.

Regenesis is a university-based environmental organization with chapters across Ontario schools. Originally started as a student club in 2007, Regenesis has grown to become an established non-profit organization with a strong record of community involvement and successful programs in empowering students as initiators of change in addressing today’s social and environmental concerns. Regenesis is looking to transform the former commercial kitchen into a Youth Community Food Centre at the University of Toronto, with the purpose of strengthening the relationships between food, food insecurity, social justice, sustainability, and youth.

According to PROOF, a food insecurity group at U of T, four million Canadians are food insecure — and Meal Exchange, a national student-run charity, has shown that four in ten Canadian university students are food insecure. Regenesis hopes that the Youth Community Food Centre will become a space for sharing knowledge about food insecurity, providing indiscriminate access to healthy and affordable food, fostering social connections within the community, and promoting awareness of sustainable food systems.

A Community Food Centre (CFC) is a welcoming space where people come together to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food. CFCs provide people with emergency access to high-quality food in a dignified setting that doesn’t compromise their self-worth. People learn cooking and gardening skills there; kids get their hands dirty in the garden and the kitchen in ways that expand their taste buds; and individuals discover how to make healthier food choices. Community members find their voices on the issues that matter to them, and people find friends and support. CFCs offer multifaceted, integrated and responsive programming in a shared space where food builds health, hope, skills and community. At the Youth CFC, food is considered to be more than a substance that fills our bellies; it is a tool for making meaningful personal, cultural and social connections. University of Toronto’s CFC would have three core purposes:

1. Access to Healthy Food: accessible meals, affordable markets, community kitchens, locally sourced food and producers, professionally trained community chefs and nutritiously-conscious food.

2. Food Skills: cooking and gardening workshops, choosing and preparing healthy food, and creating a connection between healthy eating and overall well-being.

3. Education & Engagement: finding resources and support to take action on issues, making friends, finding neighbours, and feeling connected to your community.

With the help of the Aviva Community Fund, we could finance the renovation of the Youth Community Food Centre and develop our programming. Some of the initiatives we hope to run within the Youth CFC are drop-ins to access nutritious food and resources, a monthly food bank service, a community kitchen for culturally diverse cooking workshops, and community dinners where meals are prepared collectively and shared in the space. Additionally, there would be a farmer’s market with local and fresh food, a shared garden, and educational workshops to empower youth to take action on issues surrounding food. These issues include food insecurity, culturally-safe food and how climate change is inextricably linked to unsustainable food systems.

With a prize from the Aviva Funding Competition, we can make our goals a reality and use food to build a greater sense of community in downtown Toronto!

Broker supported
KRG INSURANCE BROKERS INC.

University of Toronto

Location: Toronto