Combating Food Insecurity in Malvern and Scarborough

 

 

 

It is with great enthusiasm that we unveil the Malvern Family Resource Centre’s (MFRC) Food Strategy for the 2024-2026 period. The escalating costs of food over the past two years have been a significant concern, highlighted continuously by organizations such as the Daily Bread Food Bank. These entities have noted a substantial increase in food bank visits across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Feedback from our community has repeatedly emphasized the urgent need for food support, prompting us to embark on a comprehensive strategy in the Fall of 2023 to address these challenges effectively.

Prior to the pandemic, MFRC actively incorporated food services in various programs. During the height of the pandemic, we transitioned from in-person offerings to virtual programs, necessitating the suspension of direct food provision. In response, we redirected resources towards a food depot initiative, assembling and distributing perishable and non-perishable items to those in self-isolation or for collection at designated locations. This initiative continued until Spring 2022 when the designated funding concluded.

As in-person programs gradually resumed, reintroducing food services presented challenges, particularly with ongoing mask mandates and logistical adjustments. However, by late 2022 and into 2023, we successfully increased food offerings in our programs in response to the sustained need within the community.

Strategic Priorities for 2024-2026

Priority 1: Food Access

Recent reports, including the 2023 “Who’s Hungry” analysis by the Daily Bread Food Bank and North York Harvest Food Bank, indicate a 51% rise in food bank utilization over the past year, with Scarborough emerging as a critical area of need. MFRC is dedicated to addressing these urgent requirements by ensuring comprehensive access to nutritious food. Our commitments for 2024 include:

  • Integrating a food component in all in-person programs.
  • Appointing a food coordinator to enhance food procurement and kitchen facilities.
  • Expanding the provision of hot meals and interactive meal programs.
  • Identifying sustainable sources for food donations to maintain well-stocked community food pantries and refrigeration.

Priority 2: Food Growing

Community feedback has expressed a strong interest in increasing accessible spaces for cultivating and obtaining culturally appropriate foods. The Malvern Urban Farm, located along underutilized hydro corridors, serves as a successful model of urban agriculture. Our goals for 2024 include:

  • Enhancing the scale and diversity of our weekly farmers’ market.
  • Exploring new market opportunities for our 16 existing farmers.
  • Expanding the Malvern Urban Farm and supporting additional urban agriculture initiatives.

Priority 3: Food Advocacy

Recognizing that charitable solutions alone cannot fully resolve food insecurity, MFRC is committed to advocacy that drives systemic change. Our focus for 2024 includes:

  • Amplifying our collaborative efforts with other organizations to advocate for policy changes addressing food insecurity.
  • Deepening our understanding of food insecurity issues specific to Malvern and effectively communicating these challenges.
  • Building our staff’s capacity to engage more effectively in advocacy efforts.

We have outlined a detailed action plan that specifies activities, leaders, and timelines for each priority over the next three years. We are eager to see our community’s ideas come to fruition and invite you to join us in our pursuit of food security in Malvern.

Access MFRC’s Food Strategy document here

Blog Post By:

Dominique Robinson, Program Director
Claire Perttula, Food Justice Projects Coordinator
Malvern Family Resource Centre

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