Anti-hunger Coalition (Timmins)

Anti-Hunger Coalition Timmins’ (ACT) vision is a food secure community, where all residents have the resources to access and prepare healthy food. Various barriers and challenges make food inaccessible to some community members such as low income, transportation, and gaps in knowledge or experience with meal preparation. Incorporated in 2007, ACT became a registered charity in 2009 with the goal of developing creative and coordinated responses to food security. This registered charity has three social enterprises that provide alternative revenue streams to support its work including The Good Food Box, Collective Cooking, and Community Gardens.

The Good Food Box is the longest running program of ACT and is a partnership between producers and grocers. Bulk food is provided at wholesale prices to ACT and volunteers assemble food boxes for delivery on a monthly basis. A family can purchase a large box for $20, while a single person can purchase a small box for $12. A total of 10 percent of the cost of the box is redistributed to ACT to cover the costs associated with the program. Consumers of The Good Food Box have fresh wholesome fruits and vegetables delivered monthly for a fraction of the cost of going to the grocers. In addition, the box contains a newsletter produced by the Porcupine Health Unit that provides consumers with education on different food topics as well as recipes for the produce.

The Community Gardens initiative is open to all, but the intention is to provide community members that do not have access to land with raised garden boxes for growing fresh organic fruits and vegetables. This program supports food sovereignty in the Timmins area and contributes to food security through knowledge and skills acquisition. There are two sites: 86 plots at The Kidd Operations Community Gardens and another 36 plots at The Rotary Community Gardens. Rental fees are paid to ACT and cost $25 for the first year with $20 for each subsequent year. The revenue generated through the Community Gardens contributes to the overall maintenance of the plots.

Collective Cooking aims to increase community members’ skills and knowledge associated with food preparation and cooking. Participants in ACT’s Collective Cooking learn chopping techniques, ingredient substitutions, measurements, nutrition information and so much more. The program is hosted by a coordinator that leads participants through step-by-step pre-chosen recipes and finishes by having participants enjoy a meal together. A suggested donation of $10 per participant covers the cost of the ingredients and space rental. Currently the program is run on an ad hoc basis, but ACT is aiming to increase the frequency to monthly in the coming year.

Similar to many other registered charities ACT cannot rely solely on funding agencies such as the United Way and therefore has diversified their revenue by establishing these social enterprises. The sale of services and products provides the ACT with alternative revenue streams, thus increasing the financial sustainability of the charity. United Way Centraide: North East Ontario supports the work of ACT by funding a staff member and subsidizing some aspects of ACT programming.

ACT has encountered barriers to their work beyond funding, including marketing and promoting their work throughout Timmins as something beyond an emergency service. Executive Director Jennifer Vachon says “The Anti-Hunger Coalition Timmins looks at preventative measures to food security through education, skill-building, and increasing access to local, healthy and affordable food.” Volunteers and employees over the past 10 years have sought to increase awareness among the community of food security issues, food sovereignty and ACT’s role in this.

Moving forward Jennifer hopes to increase the visibility of ACT by organizing high profile events such as Coldest Night of the Year. ACT will host the first ever Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser in Timmins on February 24th with the goal of raising $30,000 to support food security initiatives.

If you are interested in learning more about the Anti-Hunger Coalition Timmins or about the upcoming fundraiser check out the websites.

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