We’ve reached a milestone

On March 16th, 2020, The Stop Community Food Centre took on a vital new role in our community. Our Executive Director Leigh Godbold reflects on all that we’ve accomplished during this difficult year.

It is unbelievable that it has been a full year since this crisis began. A year ago today, I became the Executive Director of The Stop — right as the entire world as we knew it came to a standstill.

That same day, The Stop started adapting our work to the imminent health and economic disasters that COVID-19 presented. As many Torontonians stockpiled goods from grocery stores, we turned our focus to emergency food access for those who didn’t share this privilege. As many sheltered in place with their families, we worried for people in the city experiencing homelessness or social isolation – how would our most vulnerable community members survive the hardships of the pandemic?

Our community has been hit hard by this crisis, as have many low-income areas of Canada. In communities like ours, there are many people who are essential workers. People who work at groceries and factories, delivery drivers, retail employees, and more. People with little-to-no paid sick leave. People who tend to be be those earning the lowest wages, who are often new arrivals to Canada, and who reside in congregate living settings.

Many in our community were already facing food insecurity, and sadly, the situation has only gotten more dire.  

• We’ve done our best to keep up with an increased demand and a decrease in space due to diligent social distancing. Since April 2020, we have already served close to 60,000 meals  a 20% increase over the year before.We’ve handed out countless nutritious food hampers to new and expecting parents, in addition to those we have provided through our food bank.

• We have shifted how we connect with our community members by innovating new ways to come together, from WhatsApp groups, to long phone calls, to getting a hotline for community members to call when they need assistance navigating complex government supports.

• We have hosted online cooking classes, webinars on nutrition and healthy pregnancies, and acquired an app that allows our volunteers to route and schedule deliveries to community members who cannot arrive at our space safely.

We know access to healthy food and social connection will be key to ensure our most vulnerable community members get through this crisis with their health — both mental and physical.

We look forward to the day when we can be together with the community, laugh, dance, cook, and each have a seat at the table.

On this solemn anniversary, I’d like to thank you for supporting The Stop and making this all possible.

With deep gratitude,

Leigh Godbold
Executive Director
The Stop Community Food Centre