April 17, 2020 This week felt a little different This week felt a little different at The Stop. Since COVID-19 broke, we’ve focused our energy on establishing a safe, efficient, and dignified system for providing emergency food. But The Stop has never just been about food access. We’re interested in how food can be a tool to build health, solidarity, and equity in our communities. We’ve begun to broaden our scope and increase the social supports we can offer. Our Community Advocacy team is creating new materials to reach marginalized community members, while it continues to run its daily phone-in support line. And Healthy Beginnings, which works with pregnant people and new parents, is facilitating WhatsApps groups to check in with participants and reduce their social isolation. We’re also looking to the future. Traditionally, spring is when we open our community gardens. We can’t bring people together in our gardens, but we can increase local food security with our garden resources. We’ll need to work with new partners in the private sector, and deepen our relationships with governments, to ensure that we can reach people where they’re at. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to connect our neighbours to much-needed emergency food services. This week, we served over 1,200 nutritious takeout meals and provided food hampers for over 300 people in our Food Bank. As has been the pattern, 48% had never accessed our Food Bank before. Here’s what else we’ve been up to: Adding Self-Care Resources to Food Hampers Prioritizing our mental health is crucial right now. Sharon Anderson, our Emotional Wellness Coordinator, has created self-care and resource packages for community members accessing our food services. There’s a word search, a pencil and sharpener, self-care tips, info on managing isolation with children, and contact info for The Stop’s Community Advocacy Office and crisis supports in the city. Chef Monica Bettson in The Globe and Mail Community Chef Monica Bettson spoke with The Globe and Mail about what our work looks like during COVID-19. To meet our community’s increasing food needs with a scaled-back team of volunteers, Monica and our other chefs and staff are designing creative solutions to feed as many people as possible—while maintaining human connection and dignity. Stay Connected to our Farmers Market For over a decade, The Stop’s Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns has been a community hub—connecting neighbours to local farmers, vendors, and social justice campaigns. We won’t be re-opening for a while, but you can still support local, sustainable agriculture with your next grocery order! We’ve made a list of vendors offering delivery and pickup. Cancelling our June Fundraisers In light of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, it’s necessary that we cancel two of our major fundraising events: The Stop’s Night Market and Big Night at the Green Barn. While we’re saddened that we can’t bring you together again, we know that this decision will keep our valued guests, volunteers, chefs, and sponsors safe. From all of us at The Stop, thank you, and stay well. P.S. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin to see daily updates on our work and impact.