A message from Leigh

Dear friends,

Monday, March 16 was my first day as The Stop Community Food Centre’s new Executive Director.

Suddenly, the organization that I’ve been part of for over 9 years was called to meet an urgent, unprecedented new demand.

That morning, we made the hard but necessary decision to suspend our community programs and focus our work on emergency food access — including fresh and healthy takeout meals and long-lasting food bank hampers — and we swiftly implemented procedures to keep everyone safe.

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

The Stop team have watched in awe as neighbours quickly organized to support one another. This wave of “caremongering” shows how generous and resilient we are in times of struggle, and we’re so touched that many of these waves of kindness have been directed towards our work at The Stop.

To everyone who has dropped off supplies, made a donation, or sent words of appreciation to our team, thank you. It’s enabled us to keep our community fed and connected in a time of so much uncertainty.

While it saddens us that we can no longer dine together in our programs, we’re grateful that we can still offer people healthy, dignified, and locally sourced meals in a place of connection — along with resources on housing, EI, mental health services, and other supports.

The need for this work is already skyrocketing, and we don’t expect it to slow down anytime soon.

On Monday, March 24, we served a staggering 340 meals up 30% from our average numbers.

Now that more businesses have been forced to close in for public safety, and food banks like ours have been deemed an essential service, many more people will be looking to us to meet their families’ needs.

As you know, The Stop sees ourselves as a vital part of the COVID-19 response, but we can’t be the solution.

Hand-outs of food have never been the answer to poverty, and they certainly aren’t now. As we do this vital work, we’ll keep raising our voices to ensure that food charity doesn’t become the new normal, and we’ll keep pushing for more resources and stronger protections for our most vulnerable community members.

We ask that you please sign this petition from our friends at $15 and Fairness calling for stronger labour protections during this health emergency, especially for precarious and migrant workers.

Meanwhile, we move forward.

Our Kitchen and Food Bank staff continue to create beautiful food served with love and dignity. The Community Advocacy Team continues to connect people to the supports and services that are so vital right now.

And the Green Barn Team is delivering emergency food hampers to other community organizations, while preparing to fill our Greenhouse with more seedlings than we’ve ever seen before. Soon, they’ll sprout into edible plants, which we’ll share with communities across Toronto.

I can’t think of a better, more hopeful metaphor for where we can go  —  as an organization, and as a city.

Please reach out if you have any questions as we proceed in this work. I’d love to hear from you.

From of all of us at The Stop Community Food Centre, thank you, and keep well.

Leigh Godbold
Executive Director