"I don’t know what I would’ve done without this place. My life has changed – it’s like black and white. There’s a lot of interaction and socializing that goes on here. Your mood changes. It has turned me around completely."participant at Winnipeg’s NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre
More and more each day, Canadians are seeing the powerful connection between access to healthy food and building healthy communities. Community Food Centres Canada is at the forefront of this sea change. Last year, we launched two new Community Food Centres and established two more partnerships, bringing our innovative model to a total of eight Canadian cities in 2016. We also expanded the support we provide to dozens of grassroots organizations across Canada that are working to improve well-being in their communities.
When we visit these neighbourhoods, one thing becomes crystal clear: poverty makes people sick. Diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, and mental health issues are all much worse in poor communities than in more affluent ones. Studies have even shown that living in low-income neighbourhoods can lower life expectancy by as many as 19 years.1 Faced with ever-mounting evidence that inequality is a serious threat to the health and well-being of Canadians, it’s more important than ever that we continue to find urgency in our actions.
At Community Food Centres Canada, we mobilize on issues of food insecurity, poor health, and social isolation by creating and supporting vibrant, food-focused organizations that build hope, health, and connection. Our Community Food Centres are places where people can connect with each other over nutritious food, build social bonds and create positive change in their lives and their communities. Ninety-two per cent of Community Food Centre participants say they feel a sense of belonging at their CFC. This number is significant because research shows a strong correlation between community belonging and physical and mental health.2 Health isn’t just about what’s inside you — it’s about what’s around you, too.
We are building momentum for change, creating a movement that demonstrates an investment in good food is better for our health, our environment, and our communities.
We were pleased to see indications of progress on the public policy front from the new federal government: plans for a poverty reduction policy, a national food policy and greater support for northern and First Nations communities. But we need to continue to push for change: engaged communities have an important role to play in building the political will that’s necessary for those and other progressive policies to come into being.
We could not do this work without a remarkable group of donors and allies. We sincerely thank you for your generous, committed support. And if you’re learning about us for the first time here, join us: sign up for our e-newsletter; make a donation; or get in touch to discuss how you can be involved.
Together, we will shape a stronger, more equitable, healthier Canada.