Farm-To-Fork.ca officially launched October 3rd, 2013 with a goal of helping to eliminate food insecurity in our community. While the night was cause for celebration, we were also reminded that our work is far from over. Every day in our community people are going without food. Friends, family members, neighbours – wondering whether or not to pay for their heat or rent, or instead buy food. Many of us are fortunate enough to not have to struggle with these decisions. The sad reality is that too many people do. We can do better.
During the launch event, we were honoured to hear first hand from Tina Brophey about her life, and her experiences with the emergency food services. Tina spoke eloquently. Tina spoke matter-of-factly. Tina spoke for those in our community who often go unheard. With permission, the Farm To Fork team is proud to tell her story below.
Thank you once again Tina for taking part in our launch. And thank you to everyone who has supported the Farm To Fork project. Together we can eliminate food insecurity in our community.
Thank you for having me here tonight. Today is October 3rd. My check for October is almost all gone. I didn’t waste it on drugs to escape, or the proverbial taxis to the beer store. I paid my rent, got my bus pass, paid my phone bill and bought a few groceries. I have 28 days until I get another assistance check. I will need to access food supports, if I want to eat on ALL of those 28 days. I won’t be alone. I will eat surrounded my men, women and children at the Drop In Centre or the church. I will visit the Food Bank, pantries and Hope House, and meet with people and volunteers who will help with a smile.
The Farm To Fork initiative is a great assistance to those food providers and volunteers. Helping them to address the needs of their organizations and the people they serve. I used to work as a Community Advocate in a neighbourhood group. Onward Willow is based in a high density, low-income area of Guelph. We offer “Emergency Food” packages to tide people over for a day or two if something like a check was late, or while they waited for a food bank appointment. I know the struggle our organization faced if we were running low on the essentials. We’d scramble to get tomato sauce, or powdered milk, to fill an unexpected increase in usage, or if donations dwindled. The Farm To Fork site will help connect those pantries with the donors in a more meaningful way. Being able to post the needs of the group means that we won’t run into the problem of 100 jars of peanut butter and no crackers or soup.
When I worked there, farmers would arrive with big bags of corn or potatoes. Unprepared, we’d get volunteers to drop a bag at every house in the nearby complexes, as storage and freshness were concerns. If those farmers had used Farm To Fork, we could plan, let the community know and coordinate with other community groups.
Farm To Fork will also highlight that good, healthy foods are needed and hopefully reduce the amount of dented, out dated cans of cranberry sauce and artichoke hearts donated.
I’d like to thank the great minds behind this idea for thinking of me and all the other faces of poverty. My sincere hope is that soon higher minimum wages and social assistance rates will make food banks a thing of the past. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who dreams of at time where everyone has safe, affordable homes and healthy diets that are sustainable for every day of the month.