- About Us
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- Healthy Beginnings & Family Support
- Education Program
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Frequently Asked Questions
The Stop began as one of the nation’s first food banks, growing out of the ministry of Reverend Cam Russell at St. Stephen-in-the-Fields Parish. In 1982, The Stop was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization. Since that time, The Stop has carried out its anti-hunger work in a number of locations, and since 1995 has been at its current home of 1884 Davenport Rd.
The Stop is primarily in the business of ensuring that everyone in our community has enough safe, good quality food to have a healthy life – without having to resort to emergency measures.
At the community level, The Stop contributes to community food security by giving people the skills to choose, prepare and grow food, thereby becoming more food secure. Our community kitchens and gardens draw people together around food, which not only increases their access to food, but also reduces social isolation and builds networks between individuals.
At the provincial level, The Stop and other food security advocates look at the policies that have shaped our current food system, and how they can be improved to increase community food security. As a result, we’ve engaged in advocacy on income security, and are working with Public Health officials to point to links between healthy food and disease prevention.
The Stop’s mission is to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds hope, and challenges inequality. All of our programs are based on the belief that food is a basic human right.
The Stop achieves its mission by combining respectful, emergency food delivery with a variety of community-building programs.
Every year, we gather qualitative and quantitative information on our programs to assess their impact. Data collected includes information on how many people were served, how much food was distributed, and how many volunteers and volunteer hours were involved.
In addition to statistical information, we also conduct an annual survey of our program participants for their views on program effectiveness, and general feedback about The Stop. Learn more by reading the results of our 2013 Annual Program Survey.
The key difference between The Stop and a regular food bank is our approach to the issue of food insecurity. We know that, although they do provide a temporary solution to hunger, food banks do nothing to address the underlying issues that lead to hunger: poverty and social isolation.
At The Stop, our approach to hunger goes beyond food hamper handouts. We actively involve people in growing and preparing food, and we encourage them to speak out on the issues that lead to poverty. At The Stop, we’re creating gardeners, cooks and engaged citizens, rather than passive recipients of charity. We use food to build skills, confidence, hope, health and understanding across cultures.
A Community Food Centre (or CFC) is a welcoming space where people come together to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food. Learn more about the Community Food Centre model.
We serve low-income, homeless or marginally-housed, and socially-isolated community members who live between Bloor Street (south), St. Clair Avenue (north), Dovercourt Road (east), and Runnymede Road (west). Our population is diverse – our program participants come from over 30 countries and speak over a dozen languages.
These different groups are brought together by a lack of adequate income with which to purchase nutritious food that ensures good health. For example, the majority of our participants report that they have no money left for food - or many other expenses - after they have paid rent. The Stop is a critical resource for many of the most vulnerable people in our community.
We believe that food banks are not the answer to poverty and hunger, and are instead a band-aid solution. We believe that long-term solutions to poverty and hunger can only be fully realized through social supports that provide enough income for individuals to purchase adequate amounts of healthy food and are actively involved in advocating for the same.
The Stop's Programs
Our After-School Program engages children aged 8 to 12 in fun, hands-on activities that teach skills necessary to grow, cook, and select healthy food, and encourage positive attitudes towards healthy eating.
Our Bake Ovens & Markets bring neighbours together around fresh, healthy food. The Good Food Market at The Stop features affordable, local food - and (in the warmer months) a free pizza-baking session at an outdoor wood-fired oven. The Green Barn also hosts our popular, year-round Farmers’ Market and a community bake oven.
The Community Advocacy program trains peer support workers to provide one-on-one assistance to community members to provide advocacy and assistance in accessing social services.
The Community Cooking program teaches people how to prepare nutritious, culturally-diverse, and inexpensive meals in communal cooking groups that bring people together to learn, cook, eat, and socialize.
Our Civic Engagement programming supports community members to speak out about and work together on issues of poverty, hunger, and inadequate income in the community.
The Drop-In is a safe and welcoming space where community members can enjoy nutritious food, meet others, and access information on social issues and community resources.
The Food Bank provides community members with a three-day supply of food once a month. The program places a high priority on providing as dignified an environment and as high-quality food as possible.
Healthy Beginnings and Family Support is a pre-and post-natal nutrition and support program for pregnant women and new mothers living on low incomes.
Our Sustainable Food Systems Education program teaches children from local schools where their food comes from with hands-on cooking and growing activities matched to the Ontario school curriculum.
Our Urban Agriculture initiatives include an 8,000-square foot garden at Earlscourt Park, a community garden at Hillcrest Park, and a greenhouse, a sheltered garden, and the Global Roots Garden at The Green Barn. These sites yield over 4,000lbs of fresh, organic produce for our programs every year, and engage community members of all ages in learning how to use environmentally-friendly methods to grow fresh, local produce year-round.
Urban Agriculture is the practice of gardening and growing crops within a city. Our Urban Agriculture program produces more than 4,000 lbs of healthy, sustainably-produced, fresh food that is distributed through The Stop’s food bank, meal programs, and community kitchens — as well as to the volunteers who grow the food.
Our primary garden site is an 8,000 square foot organic vegetable and native wildflower garden in Earlscourt Park. The garden is tended mainly by volunteers under the supervision of seasonal staff.
Urban Agriculture has benefits for communities, individuals, and the environment as a whole. Gardening is a vital tool to bring people together, increase access to affordable food, and teach people about how to grow and use healthy food. From an environmental standpoint, food grown locally has a much smaller impact on the environment than food that is shipped over long distances.
Through cooking food and enjoying the fruits of their labour, community kitchen participants develop their food skills, make some important social connections, and take home both food and knowledge to share with their families.
There are several community kitchens at The Stop. Participants share in the preparation of the food, with the assistance of a facilitator, which they share together before planning the next week’s recipes.
The community kitchens program contributes to our mission by providing access to healthy food in two meaningful ways: through meals and through food skills education. Working together to prepare food and then sharing in the results of their collective effort are the ideas that drive the community kitchens at The Stop. Food is used as a tool through which the gaps of social isolation are bridged and connections made to each other and to a greater community, both inside and outside of our organization.
In addition, the food produced and consumed in community kitchens is healthy and delicious, and in a number of cases, it is one of the most substantial source of nutrition that participants receive during the week. The food skills education component of the program allows the learning to be more dynamic and meaningful, as participants use the information from programming to enhance their everyday lives.
The Stop is unique in that our Food Bank is just one of many of our food access programs.
The Stop’s Drop-In program provides a safe place where community members have access to nutritious meals, social interaction, and connections to social services and community resources. Most of our participants struggle with poverty, isolation, mental or physical illness, and/or issues related to settling in Canada. Virtually all Drop-In participants are homeless, under-housed or at risk of losing their housing because they spend more than 50% of their household income on rent.
The Drop-In program has a number of goals:
- To increase participants' access to healthy food.
- To provide a community space that is safe, welcoming and respectful.
- To support people to foster change in their lives and communities.
- To create a healthy, inclusive and more equitable community.
We see a diverse population in the Drop-In, including people from many different cultural groups, a growing number of women and children, seniors, low-wage workers, and temporary and seasonal workers. These different groups are brought together by a lack of adequate income with which to purchase nutritious food and ensure good health.
Healthy Beginnings is a program designed to increase the health of mothers and their newborn babies. Program participants receive supports such as grocery store vouchers, TTC tickets, food hampers, healthy lunches, interpretation services, and childcare. There are also a number of resources available, such as books and videos, as well as workshops, food demos, and a breastfeeding support circle.
The program provides a welcoming environment for women and their children and encourages women to meet one another and form new friendships. The program runs weekly and functions as a drop in, allowing women to choose when they want to come and for how long.
Our Healthy Beginnings team is multidisciplinary, including nurses, dieticians, social workers, and Early Years staff. This diversity makes it easier to address the various issues women face and helps us to deal effectively with some of the higher-risk situations, making sure supports are in place for medical attention, housing, counselling, children’s aid, and immigration.
The Family Support Program provides one-on-one support to women and their newborn babies. There are three Family Support Workers (FSWs) who connect the women with community resources, promote healthy child development and help to administer the money available through the program to buy high-priority items for babies. The FSWs each work with about three women for an average of six months.
The Family Support Program is an unmatched resource for women who have just had new babies. Most of the women are trying to cope with moving to a new country and face immigration difficulties. Many of them are marginally-housed, isolated or facing abuse. Having a baby can be further isolating, and can create an additional financial burden with which they are ill-prepared to cope. FSWs accompany women to appointments, help with translation, and provide housing and immigration resources.
The Civic Engagement program supports and encourages community members to speak out about, and work together on, the issues that affect their lives - such as hunger, poverty, and inadequate income - in the community.
The Civic Engagement program has been involved in many activities, including:
- developing an anti-poor-bashing workshop for members of The Stop community
- meeting weekly to discuss social justice issues
- engaging with other organizations and coalitions
- organizing an all-candidates’ meeting during the provincial election
- collaborating on policy development and communications strategies
- organizing a neigbourhood demonstration
- making deputations
The Stop’s Governance and Organization
Volunteers play a vital role in helping us deliver our pioneering anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs. Depending on availability and interest, volunteers perform a variety of tasks, from sorting food, working in the kitchen, sorting mail, supporting events...and more! Learn more about volunteer opportunities at The Stop.