Where Food and Community Grow

Over the last year, the need for food has skyrocketed. Since the pandemic began, Fred Victor, a charity based in Toronto, Ontario, has served over 180,000 free and low-cost meals to people in need―a 40 percent increase over previous years.

Growing food security issues are just one of the reasons why Fred Victor’s community gardens are so necessary right now.

In addition to providing vital food services, shelter, counselling, and job training to support people living in poverty and experiencing homelessness, Fred Victor runs over 240 gardens where local community members garden together. It is an activity they can still enjoy amid lockdown restrictions.

“The pandemic has pushed more people into poverty. More people are experiencing food insecurity and hunger. That is why we see these gardens as more than just plots of land with plants growing in them. For every harvest that makes its way onto plates and into bellies, and for every resident who feels empowered by their surroundings, these gardens represent our vision for healthy and thriving communities,” says Keith Hambly, Fred Victor’s CEO.

Today, over 200 families, many of whom live in poverty, grow their own nutritious food through these gardens. But the food itself isn’t the only benefit of the gardening program. At Fred Victor, gardening isn’t just about growing food―it’s about growing community, too.

“What we grow reflects our community’s vibrant cultural diversity. In our gardens, kiwi and amaranth grow alongside strawberries, carrots, and garlic, which grow alongside Indigenous healing and ceremonial plants such as tobacco and sage,” says Mark Woodnutt, Fred Victor’s Senior Manager, Community Food Centre.

Gardening and nutritional education, healthy food choices, and strong relationships are cornerstones of the gardening initiative. And there are plans to expand. “We’re looking to expand the program over the next year, turning plots at one of our locations into a micro-farm that will supply fresh ingredients to the meals served out of our community hub,” Woodnutt explains.

For more information, visit UCC’s Food Security web page.

Your gifts through Mission & Service not only help feed families but also support building healthy communities through organizations like Fred Victor. Thank you for helping your neighbours across our country flourish.

Your Generosity Matters, formerly Minutes for Mission, is a feature story series of the Mission and Service program of the United Church of Canada. Watch for monthly stories about how your contributions to the M&S fund are making a difference. You can find them by visiting the Mission & Service page at haliburtonuc.com or signing up to get our posts by email.

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