Walking into the Parkdale Food Centre, visitors are struck by two things: the huge, sprawling kitchen, and the smell of coffee fresh off the pot, laid out on a table for all who stop by.
Since moving into their new location at 30 Rosemount, the PFC has been busier than ever. With the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the PFC has been able to run several new programs, including the collective kitchen.
“It’s a program for people who are not only food insecure – which means they don’t have the ability to purchase good food – but also don’t have a place to store it,” explains Karen Secord, manager of the PFC. “We have free cooking classes taking place here each week. Our clients can then store what they made in our new commercial freezer, and stop by whenever to eat it. It also allows us to save all leftovers for those who come in hungry.”
A partnership with the Mission, which runs a chef program through Algonquin College, enables these new initiatives to be as rich and educational as they are. Monthly, the men from the Mission’s chef class will teach a cooking workshop.
“It’s encouraging people to give back, and it’s pretty exciting,” Secord notes.
Another partnership is with Hidden Harvest. The Parkdale community is rich in mature fruit and nut trees, and through this partnership, half of what is harvested goes directly back to the Parkdale Food Centre. Then, the food is processed and given throughout the winter, fitting in with the PFC’s mission of sharing healthy, wholesome food.
Other places in the community, such as Thyme & Again, The Cupcake Lounge, and The Bagel Shop, actively donate and support the PFC.
“Together, we can do better. That’s the bottom line,” says Secord.
This core belief is also behind the introduction of their container garden. With up to $10,000/month being spent on food, the PFC is striving to create sustainability. The community has already started to offer the use of their backyards.
“It started with the Reverse Food Truck. People brought milk and carrots from their yard, and local businesses brought us the fruits and vegetables that weren’t selling that day. This was the next logical step, to encourage people to plant a row in their garden for us,” says Secord. “We want to create a conversation about hunger in the community, and creating community.”
Residents are invited to join this conversation on May 7, at the Parkdale Food Centre’s gala. With local businesses such as Absinthe donating their time, food and staff – and neighbours providing musical entertainment – it’s sure to be a snazzy way to showcase their new programs and raise funds for the slow summer months. For more information, or to buy a ticket, go to parkdalefoodcentre.ca.