This December and throughout the next year, we will be celebrating The Stop’s 40th Anniversary. As we reach this milestone in our work, we take a moment to reflect on our history, the current challenges and the way forward.
The Stop (formerly Stop 103) began with a parish priest and his wife, Campbell and Shirley Russell, making sandwiches for hungry people who came to their door. Some say the name “The Stop” came from “stop the cycle of poverty”.
Food has always been central to our work, from the first sandwich we served in a basement 40 years ago to the almost 80,000 meals served last year across our three West-End locations. It relates to health, justice, community, and the environment.
Food is powerful. But food alone can’t repair the damage caused by the social constructs of colonization, racial discrimination, addiction, or poverty.
As we mark our 40th birthday, Canada hit a 40-year high inflation rate this year. While we have reasons to celebrate our impact in 40 years of supporting the community through food access, reducing social isolation and anti-poverty work, we have a lot more work to do. Our community members still need more adequate income supports. We are facing a higher demand than ever before with skyrocketing food costs. Our organization is being pushed to be even more resilient in these challenging times, and there is no relief in sight.
Our community is counting on us to provide emergency food access as they face inflation, while our budget has been heavily affected for the same reason.
There are many things organizations like ours can do to support community members and their immediate needs. We can feed people, we can build community, and we can help community members navigate systems that were not built for them. But as The Stop community, we alone cannot change the lack of access to affordable housing, systemic barriers to participation in society, and a dignified life free from poverty.
Right now and in the future, we must push for systemic change at the municipal, provincial and federal levels while meeting the community’s present needs as best we can.
We will strive to provide our services to as many people as we are able. We will continue to uphold the founding principles we established 40 years ago that good food is a human right. We will continue to advocate for systemic changes to our social support systems that are so sorely necessary in our community.
For 40 years, we have used the power of food to connect our community and challenge inequality, and we will continue to do so. Thank you for your continued involvement in our critical work.