- About Us
- After School Program & Summer Camp
- Community Action
- Community Cooking
- Food Bank
- Healthy Beginnings & Family Support
- Sustainable Food Systems Education
- Urban Agriculture
- Food Markets
- Get Involved
- Learning Network
- Contact Us
Frequently Asked Questions
The Stop began as one of the nation’s first food banks almost 30 years ago, 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, how many volunteers and volunteer hours were involved etc.
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. Last year, for example, 51% of our participants indicated that coming to The Stop had a positive impact on their health, and 61% said they’d learned something at The Stop.
The key difference between The Stop and a regular foodbank is our approach to the issue of food insecurity. We know that although food banks do provide a temporary solution to hunger, they 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.
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 32 countries and speak 16 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 median after-rent income per person per day for our community members is $5.80 and 66% of our participants report that they have no money left for food or any other expense 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 Community Gardens include an 8,000 square foot garden at Earlscourt Park and a Greenhouse and Sheltered Garden at The Green Barn. These sites yield over 4,000 lbs 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.
The Community Cooking program brings people together to socialize and learn how to prepare nutritious, culturally diverse and inexpensive meals are communal cooking groups that bring people together to learn, cook eat and socialize.
Our Bake Ovens & Markets bring neighbours together around fresh, healthy food. The Good Food Market at The Stop features affordable, local food and free pizza-baking session at an outdoor wood-fired oven. The Green Barn will host a year round Farmers’ Market and community bake oven.
Food Animators initiate community gardens, kitchens and fresh food markets to increase access to healthy food and build community.
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.
The Drop-in is a safe welcoming place where community members can enjoy nutritious food, meet others and access information on social issues and community resources.
Healthy Beginnings and Family Support is a pre-and post-natal nutrition and support program for pregnant women 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.
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.
Our Civic Engagement department supports community members to speak out about and work together on issues of poverty, hunger and inadequate income in the community.
The Stop’s Green Barn is a satellite site of The Stop located in the Artscape Wychwood Barns at St. Clair & Christie. It includes a year round greenhouse, sheltered garden; bake oven, compost demonstration project, community kitchen, a classroom and a weekly farmers’ market.
Urban Agriculture is the practice of gardening & growing crops within a city. Our Urban Agriculture program produces 4,000 lbs of healthy, sustainably-produced fresh food which 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 currently five community kitchens at The Stop: Meals Made Easy (our flagship program), a Spanish cooking group, Kids in the Kitchen, a Healthy Beginnings kitchen for pregnant women and new mothers, and our newest kitchen for teenage girls. Participants share in the preparation of the food, with the assistance of a facilitator, which they then share together and plan 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 the most substantial source of nutrition that participants receive in 1-2 days. 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 fifty percent of their household income on rent.
The Drop-in Program has a number of goals:
- To increase participant’s 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 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 year’s 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 Project supports and encourages community members to speak out about and work together on the issues that affect their lives, like hunger, poverty and inadequate income in the community.
The Civic Engagement Project has been involved in activities such as:
- organizing an all candidates’ meeting during the recent Provincial election
- collaborating on policy development and communications strategies with the Medical Officer of Health about the health impacts of poverty and the need for a Nutrition Allowance
- organizing a neigbourhood demonstration as part of Toronto Anti Poverty Day of Action
- deputations to the Toronto Board of Health on the issue of a Nutrition Allowance
The Stop’s Governance and Organization
In 2008, our annual revenue was $1.2 million. Revenue sources are foundations,
individuals, corporations, special events, donated food and government funding.
Volunteers play a vital role in helping us deliver our pioneering anti-hunger programmes. Depending on availability and interest, volunteers perform a variety of tasks from sorting food, working in the kitchen, sorting mail, etc.