– By Nea Maaty –

Since the onset of the pandemic, affording food has become more difficult, particularly for people living in low income communities. Food insecurity is still one of the major issues in St. James Town especially after the economic drop that has affected many people due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Although food banks and other community agencies are working tirelessly to address the problem of food insecurity, they also face a number of challenges.

One of the biggest impediments is running out of funding. The St. James Town Community Co-op is a social enterprise that operates various food initiatives in the St. James Town area. The Co-op has responded to the pandemic by providing an emergency food relief program which runs out of the Wellesley Community Centre at Sherbourne and Wellesley Street. The Co-op is struggling with depletion of funds but members are working on finding alternatives to keep their program going.

“They have got the funding from Red Cross, I think for the pandemic,” said Ravi Subramaniam, Director of Partnerships and Hub Development at the St. James Town Community Corner. Subramaniam explained how funding during the pandemic usually has a timeline. However, that is not the only issue these organizations face. Since they are mostly run by members of the community, the volunteer program could also be one of the challenges, namely because of the volunteers’ stability and ability to keep working and offering their help in the long run. Other obstacles include the lack of sufficient space, places for storage, materials, tools and more. Subramaniam believes that organizations should think of alternative solutions and savvy methods to keep fueling their food insecurity projects. This is exactly what The Corner has done.  

The St James Town Catering Collective is an income generation project that employs newcomer women from the community to cook healthy meals for their fellow residents. The project is a collaboration between The Corner and the Sherbourne Health Centre and supports the neighbourhood during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing free meals to various food distribution agencies and isolated residents.  

Not-for-profit organizations that manage food banks offer a great service to the community. Their work not only helps provide security for people who do not have access to food, but also increases the spirit of the community, family, and safety in the neighbourhood. 

To find out more about how St. James Town organizations are working together to resolve the food insecurity crisis in St. James Town, visit:

https://youtu.be/6RB5BuByr4o 

Nea is a journalist with the FOCUS Media Arts Centre.