Exploring Belonging and Food
By Rachel Gray, Executive Director
It was glorious in Montreal on Monday, a gorgeous sunny day (with a classic backdrop of unending Montreal construction) – perfect for talking food and social connection!
I was very pleased to be part of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation’s series on social connectedness and international development, as one of the speakers at their discussion, “Beyond Food Banks: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Belonging in the Urban Environment.”
Professor Kim Samuel opened the discussion, setting the stage for why food is critical in building a sense of belonging for individuals, and a critical component of her work to build awareness of social isolation and connection. Her belief that we need to be striving for justice — rather than charity-based responses to issues such as inequality, marginalization, and food insecurity — was a perfect introduction to our work at The Stop.
I spoke about our approach to using food as a tool for building health, community, and connection. We know that while food is what brings people into The Stop for the first time, people come back because of the community they find here. Because of the community they can build here. People need people more than anything else, and, while poverty isolates people in devastating ways, food is our way of connecting and opening the door to a conversation.
Diana Bronson of Food Secure Canada talked about the opportunity Canada has right now as the federal government looks to develop a national food policy. The process for what that policy would look like is just beginning, and Food Secure Canada is launching a campaign to get people sitting round the table – over a good meal! – to help shape the national policy.
We will keep you posted and look forward to being part of the campaign to bring a national food policy to life by engaging with community members and friends of The Stop. And, as always, we will continue to use food, as we move forward, as a way to build the possibility of connection, community, and belonging.