Last week I attended The Stop Night Market — a two-night outdoor gastro-avaganza in support of The Stop Community Food Centre, a non-profit organization in Toronto aiming to combat hunger and poverty in the GTA. Over 60 of the city’s hottest chefs and restaurants came out to support the cause, including Momofuku Shōto, Ursa, The Grove and many more. Each stall was uniquely crafted and designed by local artisans. A ticket to this sold-out event got you access to taste unique creations from an all-star line-up; but more importantly, the proceeds went towards the critical anti‐hunger and anti‐poverty programs held by the The Stop.
According to Hunger Count, an annual study released by Food Banks Canada, the number of Canadians turning to food banks for help is at an all-time high. In a typical month, Canadian food banks provide food to almost 900,000 people (38 percent of whom are children). In 2012, The Stop’s food bank distributed food to over 19,000 people, and their drop-in served over 60,000 meals.
Over the years, The Stop has evolved from a simple food bank into a multi-faceted food facility that not only includes a donation centre and drop-in meal hall, but also a working community kitchen, state-of-the-art greenhouse, outdoor gardens and compost demonstration centre. In addition to providing food for those in need, The Stop’s food education program also provides them with the support and skills to choose, grow, prepare and cook their own food.
None of this would be possible if it weren’t for the generous volunteers who lend their time and effort to making these initiatives a success. Just in the last year, a whopping 555 volunteers logged in 32,859 hours of service! The Stop’s community-oriented concept is currently in the process of being replicated across the country in order to provide a better, healthier and food-educated future for all Canadians.