Hope in a Time of Crisis

By Rachel Gray, Executive Director

When I bike to The Stop each morning, I see the unmistakable signs of a crisis.

By all appearances, Toronto’s west end is booming. Cranes fill the skyline, and I’m surrounded by posters for glamorous new condo developments.

But the number of people who use our emergency food services is skyrocketing too. 111 new families registered for our healthy Food Bank in June—the highest monthly jump we’ve seen since 2013.

While new apartment buildings draw our attention, hunger and poverty in our city is often hidden. 100,000 residential units went up across the city in the last seven years, but only 3,300 were “affordable.” 23% of renters spend more than half their income on shelter alone. And 181,000 people are left on waiting lists for community housing they’ll never see.

When places to live are this hard to come by, it’s no wonder our city’s shelters are at 98% capacity most nights.

Leilani Farha (Photo: Dave Chan)

“Homelessness is unacceptable in a rich country, and in a city like Toronto,” Leilani Farha, UN special rapporteur on adequate housing, told the City’s affordable housing committee. “I’m only saying what’s visible to all of you as you walk or ride your way to work.” Wherever you live in the city, I’m sure you’ve seen the signs of crisis too.

But when I arrive at The Stop in the morning, I also see the signs of hopefulness, change, and solidarity.

Here, people of all backgrounds, incomes, ages, and ethnicities come together to find common ground. They don’t just share food — they share stories, supportive friendships, life skills and resources, and a commitment to make change for themselves and their community.

In an era of dangerous political discourse that aims to divide us, these spaces for sharing are more important than ever.

The Stop has always believed in the power of these spaces. After all, it’s our origin story.

Our work began in the late 1970’s. As Canada faced a brutal recession, the congregation of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields saw many of their neighbours falling through the cracks.

They started offering simple meals in their church’s basement — but more importantly, they also offered a safe space for people to come together, to share a desire for hope and community. Little did this group of hopeful people know that their actions, and their belief that Toronto could be a better place, would have such a lasting impact.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of donors like you, The Stop has been able to build on our founders’ work for over 35 years. Together, we’ve created spaces that model the Toronto we’d like to see: a city where people stand up for one another, where everyone has access to opportunities, and where no one goes hungry.

The crisis facing our city is a daunting one. But we strongly believe that when we come together to feed each other—and our own hearts and minds—there’s no limit to our power to create lasting change.

To ease this crisis, we need to remind ourselves of who we are to one another, and how our fates are wrapped up together. The Indigenous worldview of “all of my relations” speaks to the absolute connection between all creatures and the earth. Consider how different our world would be if decisions were made with that as a starting point.

At The Stop, we’re going to keep setting a big table, knowing our collective future relies on a fierce belief in justice, an insistence on bridges not walls, and the health and hopefulness that can only come when we you understand that we are all connected.

Thank you so much for being a part of our table.


Rachel Gray
Executive Director

Help us a set a bigger table