East Scarborough Storefront
(3 team members – Clarence Snow, Desrene Cole, Krystyne Gunnis)
At a time when The East Scarborough Storefront (The Storefront) was forced to close their doors to the physical building due to COVID19, the Food Systems team’s exceptional efforts to stay connected to local residents throughout this challenging time surfaced an existing food insecurity in East Scarborough that was further exacerbated during the pandemic. They heard the community’s call for support and urged The Storefront to step up to address urgent food insecurity in the neighbourhood.
The team identified the growing momentum among a collective of local resident leaders who were self-organizing to responding to gaps that community members were experiencing from home delivery options for immunocompromised people and people with mobility issues, fresh & culturally appropriate foods for diverse East Scarborough communities and low-barrier access / eligibility. While the agency is not a food
bank and has not worked directly on food security in the past, the team was able to spark internal conversations about how food security work fit with their mission that included supporting grassroots leadership in the neighbourhood with their initiatives and priorities.
They jumped into action, putting in many hours on the ground to improve our ability to support grassroots/resident food security initiatives and improve community members’ access to fresh, culturally appropriate food, prioritizing of their own working hours in their already busy schedule each week to provide hands-on support in the kitchen and the garden to support grassroots groups to source, prepare, and distribute hot meals and fresh produce throughout the community, as well as to tirelessly maintain the kitchen and garden facilities in good repair for community use including adapting the agency’s COVID19 policy regarding the use of the commercial kitchen to prioritize grassroots food security groups’ to take advantage of the kitchen facility. At times this mean working beyond regular hours to ensure they were able to receive last minute donations of fresh and perishable produce that can go to families in need in the community.
This team has also gone above and beyond to generously sharing their experience to build the capacity of the community by co-leading workshops with grassroots leaders, engaging 20 social sector stakeholders working in food security in a conversation on how social agencies can best support grassroots initiatives in the food security landscape. This advocacy and capacity-building work has strengthened our neighbourhood’s collective ability to effectively support grassroots work on food security
To date this team has supported grassroots leaders to distribute over 8,000 hot meals and 1200 pounds of rescued food and over 560 fresh produce boxes. This short-term response has evolved since into an ongoing initiative within the organization that continues to engage many residents and strengthens food security in the community. It is thanks to this frontline team that The Storefront have been able to maximize the use of The Storefront’s kitchen and community garden, as well as better leverage our community partnerships to make tangible positive contributions to improving food security in the Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park (KGO) community.