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Why does a food organization have a tax clinic?

The Stop works to increase our community’s access to good food with a variety of different approaches.

Some focus on emergency food needs, like our healthy food bank and Drop-in meal program. Others explore more sustainable, longer term solutions to food insecurity, like our community kitchens, gardens, and advocacy services.

But our newest program cuts right to the source. When someone struggles to put food on the table, it’s not because they don’t know how to cook, or that they live too far away from a supermarket. 9 times out of 10, it’s because they simply don’t have enough money to buy groceries.

The Stop’s Financial Empowerment program, launched on March 1st, will provide low-income people with the knowledge, skills, and supports to manage their finances with confidence, and to afford good food on a more regular basis.

What’s Financial Empowerment?

According to Prosper Canada, it’s “an evidence-driven set of interventions that have proven successful at eliminating systemic barriers to financial inclusion for low-income people, and providing supports that help them to acquire financial skills and behaviours that can improve their financial outcomes.”

The Financial Empowerment approach is made up of five pillars:

  1. Providing financial information, education and counseling
  2. Helping people accessing income-boosting benefits and tax credits
  3. Identifying safe and affordable financial products and services
  4. Assisting people access savings and asset-building opportunities
  5. Building consumer awareness and protection

The Stop will be incorporating these five pillars into our new program. To start, we’ve hired Roxanne Futia as a coordinator to run a year-round, volunteer-staffed Tax Clinic and to work one-on-one with participants to assist with financial goal setting, banking, budgeting and debt management.

Roxanne’s Story:

“Financial Empowerment is meaningful to me for personal reasons. I grew up in a low-income household with a single mother. Worrying about money was always part of my life, even as a child. Then as a student who had massive loans, I wanted to ignore my financial situation because it was too scary to contemplate. I put it out of my mind—and that never leads to good things. Anything that I can do to help people who’ve experienced these same things push through that fear makes me feel good, and I’m happy to help.”

The Stop’s Financial Empowerment program is based off the model pioneered by both Prosper Canada and WoodGreen Community Services. A huge thanks to Amanda Hadida, WoodGreen’s Supervisor of Financial Counseling, who shared an incredible amount of time, knowledge, and resources to support us in launching our new program.

Get Involved:

Questions about our new program? Contact Roxanne Futia at [email protected].

We’re also looking for people with some tax experience to help staff our Tax Clinic! If you want to make a major difference in the lives of your neighbours, submit an application.

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