Alex Community Food Centre: Building community through food

by • June 25, 2016 • Community

Where food is the beginning of so much more.

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By Chad Hason, Content Contributor

If the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – then perhaps the quickest way to the heart of a community follows a similar path…

It’s certainly the approach of The Alex Community Food Centre (CFC).

The CFC is community kitchen, providing access to high-quality food in a dignified setting for the community of Forest Lawn.

 

Neighbourhood Day shows local community the power of food

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On June 19th, 2016 the Alex Community Food Centre hosted Neighbour Day, inviting the local community to see what the Alex has been busy building for the past few months.

Their slogan reads “Good Food is Just the Beginning” and if Saturday’s open house was any indicator of what’s to come, it’s the beginning of something big!

According to the event’s organizer, Renee MacKillop, the open house offered a chance to breathe life into the space for the first time.

The response from the community of Forest Lawn was fantastic.

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More than 200 people came through the doors in the first hour of the four-hour event.

They were greeted by:

  • Free food samples from International Avenue restaurants
  • Music by the Calgary Multicultural Orchestra
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Informational Boards explaining the facility’s purpose and mission
  • Kid-focused activities
  • Planter Box Raffles
  • And a ton of volunteers, excited to be participating in something so community-health focused.

The vibe was great and the facility looked impressive (despite not being complete, just yet.)

The community of businesses and locals alike certainly seemed to embrace the chance to mix together.

 

What is a community food centre?

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But what exactly is a Community Food Centre? The Alex is glad you asked!

Community Food Centres focus on food insecurity, health and social isolation issues through a variety of programs.

They all revolve around the growing, preparing and enjoyment of good, healthy food.

Through organized, community-based cooking and gardening programs, the community of Forest Lawn has been provided a safe place to come together to engage around complex social issues.

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Participants can enjoy:

  1. Access to healthy foods – drop-in meals, affordable markets, professional chefs and a commitment to supporting local producers
  2. Food skills training
    Programs are designed to teach the community cooking, nutrition and gardening skills – helping to develop life habits people of all backgrounds can benefit from.
  3. Education and engagement
    The chance to meet new people within a healthy, welcoming setting makes for an excellent backdrop for those seeking support and resources for issues that affect their lives.

Facilities like this one have the ability to empower a community affected by poverty.

To work together to find solutions that can create a solid foundation for long-lasting, positive change.

And it isn’t just about food…

According to the Alex Community Food Centre’s website:

“During programs, people can also visit on-site peer advocacy offices staffed by trained community members who can help them access:

  • Housing, legal, income, and other supports;
  • Join a cooking group or social justice club;
  • Enroll their kids in a food-focused after-school program; or
  • Start volunteering in the garden.

Quickly, a meal or market turns into a pathway to engagement and empowerment.”

The Alex’s facility is not the first of its kind – and the statistics that come from researching the effect of CFCs are overwhelmingly positive.

 

Did you know?

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  • 89% of those suffering from health conditions say that participation within a CFC helps them better manage their conditions.
  • 81% of those surveyed say they have made new, positive relationships through their local CFC.
  • 92% of community members say their CFC is an important source of healthy food.

The Centre still needs some finishing touches but plans to be completely open in the coming weeks!

For more information about Forest lawn’s Community Food Centre or about The Alex and the work they do in your community visit their respective websites.

Chad Hason is a Canadian storyteller and owner of Candid MarCom.

 

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