Vol 10 of Spezzatino now available!

Spezzatino magazine, which supports the Healthy Food Bank, has just released Vol 10: Pork. Check it out!

Your support grows gardens

The Healthy Food Bank foundation and our magazine, Spezzatino, are proud to support The Stop Community Food Centre. Here’s a quick update on what The Stop has been up to recently.

Yes in My Back Yard

There are so many benefits to growing food in backyard gardens: accessing fresh, organic vegetables for a lower cost; obtaining culturally appropriate foods that may be hard to find at the grocery store; helping the environment by reducing the chemical inputs and pollution caused by conventional farming – all while getting exercise, fresh air, and the satisfaction of watching food grow!

In fact, gardening is one of Canada’s most popular outdoor recreational activities. But here in Toronto not everyone can go right out and start digging – many people would like to garden but live in apartment buildings or do not have access to yard space suitable for growing food. And yet others have access to a yard but do not have the time, interest, or the physical ability to maintain a vegetable garden.

The Stop is launching Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY) to connect people who have land to offer with people who would like to garden.


The Backyard Gardening project

Wave after wave of immigrants have transformed Toronto. Their influence is everywhere – in our roads and buildings, institutions, stores and restaurants. But there is another place where this influence is felt, one many people never see. It is in the productive backyard gardens of the city, those verdant green corridors squeezed between brick and concrete, new and old.

On June 2, 2010, we will host Big Night at The Green Barn to celebrate the immigrant families who have tended these spaces, sharing their knowledge of plants and gardening techniques, passing on stories and memories, enriching the soil and the city with their passion for the earth and growing good food. This event will raise critical funds for our Backyard Garden Project, an initiative that will inspire and support members of our community to grow food in the city, building a stronger, healthier, more connected Toronto.

This special evening will be hosted by David Rocco and feature Nonna-inspired recipes prepared by Lorenzo Loseto, Ted Corrado, and The Stop’s own Chris Brown. Each course will feature a recipe drawn from each chef’s own family traditions.

The Stop is also establishing seven culturally specific garden plots, each with a unique mix of heritage/traditional vegetables and plants, which will be tended by experienced volunteers drawn from Toronto’s diverse immigrant communities.


Team Spezzatino was out in full force at this latter event. Here are some shots from the evening.

Publisher Phil Caravaggio reviews the menu of homestyle Italian favourites -- handmade panzerotti, rabbit ravioli, eggplant parmigiana, tiramisu...

Publisher Phil Caravaggio reviews the menu of homestyle Italian favourites -- handmade panzerotti, rabbit ravioli, eggplant parmigiana, tiramisu...

A fresh plate of rabbit ravioli, with handmade pasta

A fresh plate of rabbit ravioli, with handmade pasta

A team of volunteers hard at work on making panzerotti in The Stop's covered garden, converted into a kitchen assembly line

A team of volunteers hard at work on making panzerotti in The Stop's covered garden, converted into a kitchen assembly line

Guests fill the Wychwood Barn, a converted and previously run-down streetcar warehouse

Guests fill the Wychwood Barn, a converted and previously run-down streetcar warehouse

Donors' names on traditional Italian-Canadian garden hardware: the hockey stick tomato stake.

Donors' names on traditional Italian-Canadian garden hardware: the hockey stick tomato stake.

Videographer Alex (left) and cover photographer Jason celebrate the first course

Videographer Alex (left) and cover photographer Jason celebrate the first course

The fig tree, a classic symbol of Italian gardens. Carefully tended and babied in Canada's harsh climate by tenacious Italian gardeners.

The fig tree, a classic symbol of Italian gardens. Carefully tended and babied in Canada's harsh climate by tenacious Italian gardeners.

HFB makes first donation: to The Stop

A heartfelt thank you to all who attended An Evening Of Food Stories on Nov 26 to share your food, stories, and well wishes (and to learn what a spezzatino is — tasty, isn’t it?)

Thanks to folks like you, who support us with your Spezzatino subscriptions and Healthy Food Bank donations, we were able to present The Stop with our first donation of $15,000.

SPEZZATINO_Donation_3 2009-resized

Above: Spezzatino editor Krista Scott-Dixon, The Stop’s ED Nick Saul, and Spezzatino publisher Phil Caravaggio

If you want to know more about what The Stop does, please see: TheStop.org

It’s an amazing organization, and we’re thrilled to be able to support them.

Thank you again for helping us make that possible… and for enabling publisher Phil Caravaggio to live his dream of presenting someone with a giant novelty cheque.

At the event, we did a unusual kind of potluck — a potluck of meaning. We asked guests to bring a dish that was meaningful or significant to them, and to tell the story of that dish. We snapped each person’s photo, and immortalized their story with place cards.

The "potluck of meaning": participants brought a dish that was meaningful to them, and told their food stories

Above: The “potluck of meaning”: participants brought a dish that was meaningful to them, and told their food stories

Guests listen to speakers amidst overflowing tables of potlucky goodness

Above: Guests listen to speakers amidst overflowing tables of potlucky goodness

Other food was provided by The Stop’s chef, Chris Brown (who made us a spezzatino!) and the Afghan Women’s Catering Organization (whom we profiled in Vol 4). Mark Trealout from Kawartha Ecological Growers treated us to delicious, tender, fresh-picked greens.

Special thanks to the incredible generosity of J. Cipelli Wines and Spirits and Martin Jordan (whom we interviewed in Vol 2), which enabled us to have a fun, unusual wine bar in The Stop’s greenhouse (!); and to Ryan Smolkin of Smoke’s Poutinerie, whose mobile poutine unit brought much joy to the huddled masses.

nov-26-event-2

“Hmmm… give me one of everything.”

A week on the dollar-store diet

From the Globe and Mail, Dec 1:

A week on the dollar-store diet leaves me queasy

Dave McGinn

Here’s the sad state of affairs I found myself in last week: I had to go to the dollar store to see if it sold knock-off Pepto-Bismol because the stew I bought there the day before was making me queasy. Living on dollar-store bargains was turning out to be literally stomach-turning.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

A few weeks ago, I was walking through the aisles of the dollar store near my house when I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff for sale, everything from household cleaning items to dishware to stationery to toys.

Then I hit the food aisle – yes, the food aisle – and the thought struck me: Could I live out of the dollar store, and save a bundle doing so?

After a week immersed in this experiment, I can say without any doubt that you do indeed save plenty of cash shopping only at the dollar store. You also risk becoming malnourished.

Let’s do a little price comparing.

On the first day, I bought two small bags of chips, four cups of inferior-brand pudding, a can of chick peas, four drinking boxes of apple juice, one can of tuna, a bag of Butter’n Cream candies, a can of Chef Boyardee Mini-Bites and the aforementioned can of stew. Total cost, with tax: $10.19. The cost of the same basket of items at my local grocery store? $18.78.

Frankly, I was amazed. I seriously considered dropping $20 for an entire cupboard full of chocolate pudding. I would never have to worry about my pudding needs again.

But when you’re living out of the dollar store, the initial glow of saving so much money soon gives way – for me it was day 3 – to the realization of just how much stuff you can’t buy there: fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, cheese, food that doesn’t come in a can or a box, baby food, diapers (oh, how I wish it sold diapers!) or, unfortunately, anything to relieve an upset stomach.

You also realize that while you can technically survive on the dollar-store diet, at least for a week, making it your only food source would probably kill you in a month or two. Bargain-basement beans and stew aren’t exactly a great source for all your daily vitamins and minerals.

Living out of the dollar store also makes you realize there are a few things worth paying a few extra bucks for. Have you tasted dollar-store coffee? While it isn’t bad enough to make you do a spit-take or gag, nor is it all that great. Starting the day with a crappy cup of coffee makes for a crappy day.

An Evening of Food Stories: A Fundraiser for the Healthy Food Bank

An Evening of Food Stories: A Fundraiser for the Healthy Food Bank

It’s a full plate: a good nosh, a gallery show of food photography, and a collection of food stories.

Break bread with us. Help us celebrate our birthday and our first donation. And help bring healthy food to the table.

Thursday November 26

6:30 pm
The Stop Green Barn
601 Christie Street, Barn #4
(St. Clair West and Christie)
Toronto, ON

Suggested donation $15 or PWYC. Proceeds support the Healthy Food Bank foundation.

More information and registration

Recession swells food bank use

As reported by CBC:

The number of Canadians needing aid from food banks swelled in March to almost 800,000, an increase of almost 120,000 from the same month the previous year.

The year-over-year increase of 17. 6 per cent was the largest increase since 1997, said Food Banks Canada’s executive director, Katharine Schmidt.

The recession was seen as the primary culprit for the rise in food bank reliance, the group said. In total 794,738 people turned to food banks in March, representing about 2.4 per cent of Canada’s population. About nine per cent — or 72,321 people — were first-time users.

“Food banks have unfortunately seen first-hand the effects of three recessions in three decades,” said Schmidt in a statement from Ottawa on Tuesday.

“It is crucially important that, as we rebuild the economy, we begin to better address the barriers that prevent too many Canadians from sharing in the national prosperity,” she said.

Schmidt said the groups’ findings show both unemployment and underemployment are issues for Canadians that need to be addressed.

The group found 19 per cent of those assisted by food banks each month are living on income from current or recent employment.

The report also found:

  • Alberta had the highest increase in food bank usage, with 61 per cent more Albertans relying on the assistance compared to last year.
  • Food banks assisted about 5.7 per cent of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador, making the province the most reliant on the assistance.
  • Canadians under 18 years old make up 37 per cent of those assisted by food banks.
  • Of assisted households, 6.3 per cent reported some type of pension as their primary source of income.

Food Banks Canada called on the federal government to:

  • Maintain planned levels of transfers to provincial, territorial and First Nations governments.
  • Implement a national poverty prevention strategy.
  • Increase use of the guaranteed income supplement (GIS) among low income seniors.
  • Ensure post-recession plans take into account low-income Canadians.

The CBC site carries an interactive map to show the breakdown by province.

Colbert Tells Viewers To Deny Rep. Cynthia Davis Food

Last week Missouri State Representative Cynthia Davis opposed subsidizing school lunches for low income children during summer months saying, “Hunger can be a positive motivator.” As the Huffington Post quipped, “This is excellent news considering 1 in 5 Missouri kids is living in hunger, so that state is due for a productivity boon.”

In response, satirical commentator Stephen Colbert proposed that Davis never rose above the rank of state representative because she developed the anti-motivating habit of eating. He called on Missourians to help her by denying her food whenever possible. That should give her her edge back.

Full story and video from the Huffington Post.

Not Far From the Tree job posting

Not Far From The Tree is a non-profit organization that picks fruit from trees that would otherwise go to waste. They’re looking for a Hub Coordinator in Toronto.

NFFTT helps fruit tree owners make use of the abundance of fruit that their trees offer by dispatching teams of volunteers to harvest it for them. One third goes to the fruit tree owners, another third goes to the volunteers for their labour, and the final third is distributed (by bicycle or cart) to community organizations in the neighbourhood who can make good use of the fresh fruit.

Not Far From The Tree Hub Coordinator – Ward 21, Toronto

Application deadline: June 5th, 2009 @ 5:00 pm EST

Start date: mid to late June, 2009 Location: Ward 21, Toronto

Pay and hours: $20/hour, 20 hours a week for 23 weeks (June-November)

Not Far From The Tree, a project of The Catalyst Centre, is Toronto’s very own fruit tree project. We ensure that the fruit growing in Toronto is picked, shared, eaten, and enjoyed. The core of our programming is our residential fruit-picking program, where we pick fruit from trees that would otherwise go to waste. When fruit tree owners cannot harvest their trees, we send team of volunteers to do it for them. 1/3 of the fruit goes to the fruit tree owners, 1/3 to the volunteers, and 1/3 is distributed (by bicycle or cart) to community organizations in the neighbourhood who can make good use of the fresh fruit.

After a successful first season in 2008, Not Far From The Tree is now preparing to launch its 2009 season. To do so, we are seeking a highly organized and dedicated Hub Coordinator for our original neighbourhood base, Toronto’s Ward 21 (St. Paul’s).

Duties:

  • Schedule residential fruit picks for all registered fruit trees in Ward 21
  • Coordinate and provide support for volunteers who will lead picks, attend picks, and help otherwise
  • Establish and maintain the physical needs of the hub such as equipment and storage
  • Liaise with volunteers, fruit tree owners, partner agencies, media, and other interested partners
  • Assist with planning Not Far From The Tree events and arrange representation at outreach events
  • Report to the Project Coordinator and team of Hub Coordinators regarding progress and outcomes
  • Complete, maintain, and manage all necessary documentation related to the job (including financial records, narrative reports, statistics, contact lists, etc.)

Qualifications:

  • Excellent organizational skills, including program coordination
  • Excellent interpersonal, oral, conflict resolution, and written communication skills
  • A skilled team leader with the ability to work independently
  • A thorough understanding of food security and environmental issues, as demonstrated through the achievement of an undergraduate level degree in a related discipline or through equivalent work experience
  • Knowledge of environmental, food, and community-based networks and social service agencies
  • A demonstrated history of coordinating staff or volunteers
  • The ability to communicate in languages which reflect the demographic of the hub (e.g., Spanish, Italian, Tagalog, Portuguese) is an asset

Interested applicants who meet the above criteria are invited to submit a cover letter and résumé to:

Laura Reinsborough, Project Coordinator

laura [at] notfarfromthetree [dot] org.

Getting fit also on the menu at food bank

Staying in shape often seems like a pursuit only available to those who can afford the gym membership, the running shoes, and the fancy workout clothes. Indeed, research shows that general fitness and participation in exercise programs increases with income.

“Poverty is a more reliable predictor of poor health and chronic disease than factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking,” says Mary Clark, Active Living Coordinator at Vancouver Coastal Health, adding that the chronic stress and social exclusion people on low incomes experience are two likely culprits for their ill health. Recreation counters both, she says.

A new program run in conjunction with a Vancouver food bank, the YWCA, and VCH’s Pacific Spirit wants to change that. 50 low income women each got pedometers, and they were off to the races!

Full story

Salmonella outbreak threatens food bank stores

Food banks across the US have had to destroy inventory after a widespread salmonella outbreak in peanuts.

For example, from Southwest Georgia:

The Food Bank of Southwest Georgia gets three or four recalls a day from their parent company Feeding America. At the Albany location they’ve had to destroy as much as 300 pounds of peanut butter products that were on the list. A pallet load of Austin’s peanut butter crackers is driven from the warehouse at the Food Bank of Southwest Georgia to the dumpster. One by one volunteers unwrap each pack, destroying the product. “It has to be disposed of and taken out of its original package so it removes the threat of someone coming into our dumpster and getting the product,” said Food Bank President Brett Kirkland.

From Indiana:

Food banks across Indiana are clearing their shelves of peanut products recalled following a salmonella outbreak that’s sickened hundreds of people nationwide and may have contributed to eight deaths.  The loss of so many different types of food that contain peanut products comes amid a surge in demand for food from those who’ve lost jobs or income because of the reeling economy.  ood Finders Food Bank Inc., the Lafayette area’s largest food bank, has disposed of or quarantined 1,327 pounds of food with peanut products, executive director Katy Bunder said.

“A lot of [clients are] people who’ve lost their jobs or single mothers working as waitresses and not making enough money to put food on the table,” Hilltop Village Food Pantry director Roseanna Gray said. Demand for the pantry’s free food has increased just as donations have declined, Gray said. It’s bad enough as it is,” Gray said. “To have to throw things away just breaks your heart.”

The Healthy Food Bank is a non-profit organization that worked to provide nutritious staples like fruits, vegetables and whole grains to people in need around North America. We believe that people deserve good health, not hunger — no matter what circumstances they were born into. With the generous help of our donors we were able to raise thousands of dollars and 100% of that money was used to buy good food for someone in need. A big thank you to all of our donors and everyone else who contributed to our successful effort.