Share the Health in Stratford - helping to connect good food with low-income communities

This blog shares the highlights from Monforte Dairy`s Share the Health event in Stratford, ON benefitting The Local CFC.

On Sunday, September 29, Monforte Dairy hosted Hootenanny at the Dairy, the fifth and final event in the 2013 Share the Health series. The Hootenanny brought together farmers, chefs and artists to celebrate local food and raised funds to buy healthy food for use in meals and kitchens at Stratford’s The Local Community Food Centre.

The lineup in Stratford was impressive, including flavours ranging from Loco Fields' fresh-from-the-farm organic veg, Ethiopian delicacies, Perth County pork tacos, succulent roasted goat, and much more. In true Hootenanny fashion, there was amazing entertainment, and no shortage of foot stomping too. Food and beverages at the Hoot (as it’s known in some circles) was provided by Chateau des Charmes, Creemore Springs, Kiju Juice, The Local Community Food Centre Chefs, Neal Brothers Foods, Stratford Multicultural Association, The Wicked Pickle, and Yorkshire Valley Farms. I think that Carl Heinrich, Top Chef Canada champ and Share the Health supporter, said it best: you can’t have a good meal without great ingredients and you can’t have great ingredients without great people growing them.

The Share the Health initiative was created by Community Food Centres Canada to try to bridge the market divide between local farms growing high-quality, sustainably produced food and lower-income communities where CFCs are located. The program seeks to achieve multiple benefits by supporting CFCs to purchase good food from farms in the area, addressing issues of hunger and health at CFCs like The Local, while strengthening local food economies and benefiting the environment by purchasing from farms employing sustainable growing practices.

So often, we see environmental, economic and equity issues as separate. The Hootenanny at Monforte and the Share the Health initiative speak to the opposite, underlining that these issues are intertwined and require solutions that connect the dots and build bridges. We often think addressing these complex issues will require a compromise, but my experience at the series’ first event, Concert at The New Farm, was the opposite. It was because the event brought everyone together — champions, farmers, chefs and performers — and connected the dots between what we eat, where it comes from, and the people who believe that everyone should have access to that food, that the event was so unforgettable.

To learn more about the Share the Health initiative and a similar project at the West End Food Coop connecting low-income populations with fresh, local and sustainably produced food, join us on October 9 from 12-1pm EDT for a webinar presentation featuring Gillian Flies of The New Farm and Ayal Dinner from the West End Food Coop. This next event of our webinar series will discuss strategies for connecting low-income communities with fresh, local and sustainably produced food. The webinar will explore lessons learned from Community Food Centres Canada's 'Share the Health' and the West End Food Coop's 'Coop Cred' program which enables low-income community members to participate in the health benefits of local, organic and sustainable food sold at the cooperative.

What: UPCOMING WEBINAR - Bridging the gap: helping to connect good food with low-income communities

When: Wednesday October 9, 2013 12-1pm EDT
Where: Your Computer - Register Here! - https://cfccanada.webex.com/
How Much: Free!