Soumise par :
Learning Enrichment Foundation
Learning Enrichment Foundation
116 Industry Street, Toronto, ON
Idée créée le:
le 30 septembre, 2011
Moyen budget (50 000 $ à 100 000 $)
It has only been six months, but already there is a new buzz and energy within the walls of the Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF). It has been created by our new Market in the Town Square.
In 2009 we created a gathering space that has become the centerpiece of our organization; a place where we eat lunch, host conferences, hold community events and graduations, and the home of our weekly fresh fruit and vegetable market. There were many reasons for starting our market, among them was the challenge of food access faced by many community members. LEF is located in a high-priority neighbourhood, and the second poorest riding in the province, with limited access to grocery stores.
Each Thursday we provide a selection of fruit and vegetables purchased through Food Share Toronto, with an emphasis on local produce, although remaining aware of the cultural diversity of the community members attending the market. In addition to providing food, we have been striving to create a gathering place through access to multiple activities while the market is operating. To date we have had food demos, a yoga class, and children's activities, provided a space for vendors to sell their goods, and we will have a community walking group starting soon. We have also been involved in a community health fair and are organizing a Harvest Festival to celebrate the abundance of fall with foods and activities.
The community members that attend our market are often those from our language instruction program or our skills advancement courses. From 300-400 people that are in our building each day, 60-75 people purchase items from the market each week, with many more accessing additional services offered in conjunction with the market. Many are newcomers to Canada, and as such we are acutely aware of the need to provide culturally diverse and appropriate options. Further, we provide information around Canadian-grown fruits and vegetables that our students may not have used or seen in their home countries, including food demonstrations, growing seasons, and recipes. We are acutely aware of the fact that many of the people shopping at the market each week come from our local community, and therefore experience the very real daily challenges related to poverty and food security.
While the market has created a vibrant day of activity at LEF, we want to expand this further and provide it with the supports to include more volunteers and vendors, with an increase in health promotion activities. Currently the market is operated by LEF staff volunteers. While there is a dedicated team with a group of volunteers, this needs more attention than we are currently able to give, in order to expand further, and truly meet the needs of our clients and community.
With the financial assistance of the Aviva Community Fund we could:
- Offer children's activities each week at the market, including expanding activities to include elements of food and healthy living. For example, food tasting, easy recipes, food art, dancing and exercise.
- Increase support for vendors at the market. Vendors or entrepreneurs at the market would have the opportunity to work with our self-employment program and receive support building and growing their business. This would also provide an opportunity for those in self-employment training to test their product at the market in a safe and comfortable learning environment. For those selling food items we want to create a bridge to our certified kitchen, which will allow people to increase the amount of food they produce in a way that meets Toronto Public Health criteria for food production.
- Provision of Food Handlers certification for volunteers of the market. This allows people to prepare food for sale, as well as provide education about safe food handling.
- Supplies for food demos and the market, including utensils, a small grill, bowls, cutting boards, produce scale, bags and baskets. This would also include cutlery, bowls, and plates for sampling.
- One staff member dedicated to operating the administration of the market, providing outreach and support for volunteers, outreaching and marketing to the community and linking with self-employment and vending opportunities.
Through the expansion of our market we can work on the pressing issue of food insecurity among our community members, provide increased opportunities to volunteer in the community, support local entrepreneurs, provide information about locally grown fruits and vegetables, and healthy eating and lifestyle. Additionally, we can continue to expand the opportunities to engage in healthy living activities such as a community walking group and free yoga classes.
In six months we have taken the idea of providing fresh produce at an affordable price, and expanded it to become a weekly event that brings people together around food and healthy living. With increased support we are excited to see what this event will look like in another six months.