The Tuesday following Black Friday is increasingly known as Giving Tuesday, a day to remind everyone of the importance of philanthropy right on the heels of consumerist frenzy. As a registered charity that depends largely on donations we definitely support that awareness, but if we are to expect people to open their wallets for our sake it would help if people knew where their money was going. To do so it’s important to know where we came from, and where we are going.
Several years ago our organization operated on a minuscule budget that went almost entirely to food and utility costs. Every single day, volunteers would prepare and serve a daily meal to the public. A few super-volunteers were able to be there five or more days a week and provide the organizational stability necessary to keep the place running smoothly. However, this eventually proved unsustainable, as some of these volunteers moved on and replacements proved difficult to find. The budget barely allowed for a part-time staff, but even this was not enough to keep up with the multitude of daily tasks. Burn-out among volunteers and board members was intense.
Eventually, a solution was found: There is no shortage of public funding for training and education, so the daily meals became a skills-building exercise for trainees directed by professional chefs. With a professional backbone, we noticed immediate benefits: there was less volunteer burn-out, more stability in facility maintenance and operation, and the quality of our meals increased so much that our daily visitors surged.
However, funding arrangements are often very specific and never quite cover anything. There is a whole range of costs that fall outside of of them, including ballooning expenses for food and maintenance. But more importantly, funding that is not restricted to a specific set of outcomes can be set aside and used towards our future aspirations.
There are many organizations that we emulate, including many in Nunavut such as Rankin Inlet’s Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre or the Cambridge Bay Community Wellness Centre, but the model we have found is the best fit for us is that of the Community Food Centre (CFC). This concept has been developed by Community Food Centres Canada and currently there exist ten officially designated CFCs in the country. We aim to be the eleventh.
What it means to be a CFC varies tremendously, and it will vary even more if we are to become the first in Northern Canada, but at its heart it bridges the very obvious need among many for better food access with the less obvious solution of personal empowerment, reduced isolation and increased advocacy on issues affecting the community. Our aim is to turn our Centre from a place of need to that of pride for the entire community.
If you are ever curious about who we are and what we hope to achieve, do not hesitate to stop in for a chat (bldg 655) or contact our ED at firstname.lastname@example.org. Without the community’s awareness and support, we can go nowhere. You can help us in a multitude of ways, by donating, volunteering, or simply spreading the message. Thank you for your support.