Sharing good healthy food.

Sharing good healthy food.

Posted by Hain Celestial on Feb 24, 2014 | A Healthier Way of Life

FoodShare Toronto is grateful for support from Hain Celestial making positive impacts in promoting healthy eating and community building through Community Kitchens.

About FoodShare Toronto
FoodShare Toronto is a non-profit organization that gets good healthy food and food education into schools and communities across Toronto. Founded in 1985 to address hunger in Toronto, FoodShare takes a long-term approach to hunger and food issues, working to empower individuals, families and communities while advocating for the broader public policies needed to ensure that everyone has adequate access to sustainably produced, good healthy food.

Working "from field to table," FoodShare focuses on the entire system that puts food on the table: from the growing, processing and distribution of food to its purchasing, cooking and consumption. FoodShare applies its program models to the direct needs of low-income communities in Toronto, implementing solutions universally to remove stigma. FoodShare facilitates empowerment and community development from the ground up, cultivating awareness, building citizenship and enhancing individual and community participation, all the while striving to improve access to good healthy food.

Community Kitchens

All over the world, food is celebrated as the basis of family, community, health and life.

FoodShare’s Cooking programs provide hands-on capacity building through workshops and health-based Community Kitchens across the City.

FoodShare is proud to share values of healthy eating with Hain Celestial, and team up to support this work.

Cooking together breaks down barriers and brings communities together. When young people taste food that is fresh and delicious, they begin to understand alternatives to a fast food diet. This is what Community Kitchens are all about.

A Community Kitchen is a public space where people get together and cook on a regular basis. Community Kitchens offer the opportunity to share skills, socialize and reduce costs by purchasing collectively. Kitchens are as diverse in their purpose and organization as the people who participate in them – some groups only prepare enough food to sit down and eat one meal together, while others prepare several meals in large portions to take home to their families. One group of immigrants may want to get together to cook "foods from home", another may prefer to practice their English or learn how to make new foods.

Through support from Hain Celestial, FoodShare has continued its work offering health based Community Kitchen’s for women living with or recovering from breast cancer, aboriginal communities, and youth. Numbers and interest in these workshops are continuing to grow, and FoodShare has 100% attendance whenever a Community Kitchen is offered.

Sharing good healthy food. Breaking down social isolation. Feeling less alone in a city that can so often be so lonely. Learning empowering lessons about how to choose high quality food for a healthy life.

It’s so great to hear the voices of the women who come to Kate’s Kitchen, a group of 12 women who are living with or recovering from breast cancer gather to cook, eat and share.

“Learning how to feed yourself with good people is basically how you should live your life, even outside of this kitchen, that’s something I now will do. Cooking was part of the benefit, but for me, it was also about being with the other survivors, just getting that friendship in the kitchen and afterwards as well.”

There are vegetarian kitchens, kitchens for new moms, kitchens that cater primarily to psychiatric consumer/survivors. There are no hard and fast rules about how to organize a community kitchen, just a few pointers and guidelines (and a knowledge and love of food helps).

Health-based Community Kitchens also share FoodShare’s vision of Good, Healthy Food for All with members of the Aboriginal community in a culturally sensitive way that respects traditional foods and practices.

 “I have learned lots and am excited to bring back to my First Nations and also to see the other workers from other First Nations.” – participant in Aboriginal Community Kitchen

Students either help parents in preparing the meal or participate in after school activities that are geared to aboriginal education. Sitting down to a meal with 30 to 40 community members, all sharing a delicious, culturally appropriate dinner is a wonderful experience for parents and children. The excitement that is generated by these young people learning to cook together is palpable and FoodShare hopes to continue to work with this community to build a healthy, positive attitude towards cooking and the joys of eating together.

 “My way of thinking in regards to food has been completely blown open! I am so determined to go back to my community and see what resources we have to make food security changes.” – participant in Aboriginal Community Kitchen

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We are so pleased that Hain Celestial has chosen to support FoodShare’s Community Kitchen programs and recognizes food as such a powerful tool to connect people. After all, A Healthy Way of Life starts with what you put into your body.

To learn more about FoodShare visit www.foodshare.net or join us at Recipe for Change February 27 at the St. Lawrence Market for a tantalizing evening of gourmet food and drink.  

Photo Credit: R.Jeanette Martin