2019-2020 Annual Report

Food Keeps Us Connected

The Stop Community Food Centre

For almost 40 years, we’ve used good food to grow community and feed change in West Toronto.

We grow, share, and distribute good food—while challenging the systems that cause hunger and poverty.

Our impact 2019-2020

0
Takeout meals served
0
Food hampers prepared


A Message from Leigh

March 16, 2020 was my first day as The Stop’s new Executive Director. Suddenly, the organization I’d been part of for over 9 years was called to meet an urgent new demand.

That morning, we suspended our community programs and focused on emergency food access—preparing takeout meals and long-lasting food hampers—as we swiftly implemented procedures to keep everyone safe.

I’m not alone in this transition: COVID-19 has caused so many of us to step into leadership roles to meet the needs of our communities.

I’m immensely grateful for our staff, volunteers, donors, and supporters who’ve rallied to keep each other safe and healthy through the pandemic. From our frontline workers packing hampers, to the donors who’ve supported our work, to the mutual aid groups that have sprung up across the city—we have all a part to play in looking out for one another.

We know that meals alone can’t build a community’s resilience. Our power comes from our connections, and our responsibility, to each other.

As we continue to ride out the pandemic, The Stop is looking to the future. The 1 in 7 Torontonians who struggle with food insecurity will need more support as our country recovers and attention moves elsewhere. Our organization must plan for innovation, so that we can efficiently respond with programs and advocacy—no matter what the future holds.

We also must acknowledge our complicity in the systemic racism that exists in the charitable sector. The Stop has a responsibility to challenge the white supremacy culture that creates inequality. I believe that changing our own culture begins at the top: we must re-imagine the role of our Board and leadership, and set a new table for 2021.

This has been an incredibly difficult year for so many. As I reflect on what we’ve accomplished, learned, lost, and gained in 2020, I am bolstered by the knowledge that, whatever comes next, The Stop will remain here for our community.

Thank you so much for being a part of it.

Headshot of Leigh Godbold

Leigh Godbold

Executive Director

Our Work During COVID

Providing Emergency Food

Bringing people together around food is central to our work at The Stop. Once COVID made that impossible, we offered takeway meals and pre-packaged hampers at a distance.

Spotlight On: Takeaway Meals

Our Chefs showed incredible resourcefulness when facing an 30% increase in demand.

Every day, they served 350+ delicious meals made with donated food and the fresh ingredients we purchase with fundraising dollars.

Spotlight On: Food Bank

Our

Voices from The Stop

“We try to provide a wide variety of fresh vegetables and food for our clients. I live close to the community, and I used to use the food bank, so I know how beneficial it can be.”

Voices from The Stop

“The strength of a community is measured on how we look after one another. This is a moment when we all need to roll up our sleeves and make sure we all get through this together.”

Voices from The Stop

“When your bills are high, food is the first thing to go so all the more reason why food security has to remain at the forefront of all that’s going on right now,” Miller said.

Brock’s blog post and Jocelyn’s report

Our Work During COVID

Community Programs

Every day, Stop program staff are connecting people to vital resources, information, and support.

Spotlight On: Community Advocacy

Our Community Advocacy Office is a peer-run project where people with lived experience of poverty provide information, referrals, and help to fellow community members.

When COVID-19 broke we had to close the physical office, but we’ve kept supporting peers in innovative ways that maintain public safety. Every weekday, they’re on the phone answering calls from neighbours who have concerns about accessing government benefits, housing, food, or healthcare during the pandemic.

 

Spotlight On: Healthy Beginnings

Checking in with new parents is so important these days—especially those who were already feeling anxious and isolated.

Healthy Beginnings is a weekly, drop-in program that improves the health of families facing challenges like poverty, teen pregnancy, and isolation. Our team provides one-on-one support, connections to other parents, and a healthy food hamper every week.

Last year, 206 new and expectant parents took part. Of the 137 babies that were born to them, 92 % were full-term and 93% were born within a healthy weight range!

Sharlyn and Hussein

Voices from The Stop

“Thank you Hussein and Sharlyn for a wonderful experience of the community kitchen. I am so grateful for all of your support and encouragement, it means a lot! By the way the moussaka turned out really well! Makes me remind myself to not assume things and jump to negative conclusions, but to trust.”

Lauren, participant

Voices from The Stop

While COVID-19 is no doubt hard on everyone, it’s especially hard on the most impoverished and most vulnerableof which we have far too many for a supposed “world class” city.

Amidst all this despair, I am incredibly thankful for places like The Stop, which are going well over and beyond the call of duty and feeding so many people.

Voices from The Stop

“I feel calm, less stressed, better. I am happier, feel less isolated.

The weekly visits give me something to look forward to.”

Zola, participant

Our impact 2019-2020

0
Takeout meals served
0
Percent of people said
Our Work During COVID

Urban Agriculture

We had to reduce the number of people in our gardens, but Stop staff found new ways to keep on growing.

In 2020, they harvested tomatoes, kale, garlic, onion, radishes, squash, and dozens of other types of produce, then shared the harvest with volunteers and our food bank and takeaway meals.

For those volunteers who couldn’t join us, we arranged small site visits to the gardens and delivered produce to the homes of those experiencing isolation or food insecurityespecially to the seniors who’ve stewarded the garden over many years.

Seedling Giveaway

For over a decade, The Stop’s Greenhouse team have spent their spring months growing thousands of seedlings for The Stop’s four garden spaces—the Green Barn sheltered garden, the Global Roots intergenerational garden, the Mashkikii;aki’ing medicine wheel garden, and Earlscourt—and for giving away to community gardens and food organizations across the city.

2,312Seedlings grown in our greenhouse and given to 27 other food groups across the city

10 Metre Greens

Every year, The Stop hires 3-5 community members that are experiencing barriers to employment. We provide them with training to organically grow microgreens in The Stop’s Greenhouse, and support them in selling their wares at The Stop’s Farmers’ Market every Saturday (10 metres away, get it?)

Voices from The Stop

“People have been grateful to be in the garden with some semblance of normalcy. For many, this is the first place they’ve been to that isn’t a grocery store. You can really see that they miss being in this space.”​

Voices from The Stop

 “I really miss doing programming with the guys, and eating together. But the space is still there for them. I’ve had people meet their family there, that they haven’t seen in years. They pick that as a spot to meet them.”

Voices from The Stop

I care about ecological and societal wellbeing, and it’s a joy to witness this process from seed to harvest—to see the fruits of our labour reach The Stop’s community programs.”⁣

“I’m reminded of my connection to nature, its aliveness and resilience. Everything in nature is a living thing, and we must honour that. Working at the Green Barn, my respect for nature has grown.”⁣

Our impact 2019-2020

0
Takeout meals served
0
Percent of people said

Thank you to our Volunteers!

During the COVID-19 outbreak, dozens of volunteers have chosen to keep serving their community at The Stop. We’re so grateful for everyone who’s joined us onsite, and all those who wish to.

List of volunteers goes here.

Our Financials

We’re grateful to the supporters who gave generously during COVID, and allowed for us to keep our programs open throughout the crisis.

Thanks to your support, we’ve developed some financial resiliency and hope to build on that foundation so that we may weather any storm and be a constant in our community.

Get in touch!

Where we work

The Stop connects people to food and support at three sites in West Toronto. To access our programs, or drop off supplies, visit us below.

The Stop Community Food Centre

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The Stop's Green Barn

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The Stop's Wychwood Open Door

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Thank you for your support!