It was a cold grey day sometime about 10 years ago when I first visited The Stop. I was working as a producer for CBC Radio’s Metro Morning and I’d come to find out about a novel cooking class the organization was offering for people who lived in rooming houses nearby. The Stop is a community centre in the west end neighbourhood of Toronto where a lot of people struggle with food. They don’t have enough money to buy it or, in the case of the people who would be taking the cooking class I was there to investigate, they didn’t even have a kitchen to cook in. So in I went to learn about how to cook a healthy dinner with a coffee percolator and other low-cost electronic gadgets that work without a kitchen.
This is just one example of the creativity and problem solving that people at The Stop bring to food. The solutions for food access issues that the organization has come up with go much further than cooking in a coffee pot. And you can read all about them in the new book The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement. The book is written by award winning writer Andrea Curtis and her husband Nick Saul who was the executive director at The Stop for more than a decade. It’s a terrific documentation of the organization’s transformation from a food bank into a beacon of hope for food security in cities around the world. While it could serve as a textbook or blueprint for transformation community groups everywhere (and should!), it doesn’t read like one! Curtis uses her instinct for a good story to guide the reader through the tales of struggle and triumph.
The Stop’s success has led to the birth of a national food organization called Community Food Centres Canada. The idea is to bring these solutions to communities across the country.
The transformational power of food never ceases to amaze me. As this book shows, you can fix many problems with good, healthy, accessible food.