As I walked into the Allenburg Community Centre for the first time a few Mondays ago to begin volunteering for Small Scale Farms’ Feed-A-Family and Food Programs, I was amazed at the hustle and flow of the group of men and women who were working hard to support such a wonderful cause. Founder Renee Delaney designs the menus each week and runs the show, with Chef Natalia in charge of bringing the recipes to life with a focus on keeping things as whole foods focused and healthy as possible. And with meals like African Peanut Soup, Asian Raw Kale Salad, and Mustard Balsamic Pork with Rosemary, this is not your basic good-for-you food program
If you are not familiar with Small Scale Farms, this collaborative organization is focused on providing healthy food to the Niagara community with a real focus on keeping things local. They want you to love where you live and to be proud of a region that is working to make healthy, locally grown food accessible to everyone. During the growing season the group offers farming lessons, and has land with several local farmers in various areas of the region that provide in-season food for the program.
Signing up for the The Food Program will get you 7 healthy and super affordable meals a week for 4 weeks, available for pick-up on Monday evenings. The Feed-A-Family program allows you to sign up a team (think your office, your classroom, your congregation) with the money going towards providing healthy meals for those who can’t afford them on their own
The directions for volunteers of The Food Program are simple; grab a hair net and get to work. The morning crew is responsible for prepping the food, so bring your knife skills for tasks like chopping and shredding. Have some experience in the kitchen? Mid-day is for cooking the food, and you can expect a creative and varied menu each week of delicious items. Later in the day volunteers package and label the food, and then it’s time for clean-up. No matter when you show up, there will be something for you to do, and every little bit helps
Volunteers that donate four hours a week get to enjoy the fruits of their labour by choosing some meals to take home with them once they are portioned and ready to go. Want to volunteer but don’t need the grub? Pay it forward and donate your meals to someone you know who needs them, and help spread the word about the program. The opportunity to volunteer with The Food Program in their kitchen is a great opportunity for not only adults to spare their time, but also for kids to learn the importance of proper nutrition and giving back to those in need
As a holistic nutritionist, the projects that Small Scale Farms are growing in Niagara are incredibly important to me for many reasons. By keeping things as local as possible, the program also supports a healthier planet by reducing gas emissions through less food travel, encouraging healthier air and soil by growing locally, and protecting pollinators through their bee farming program. In terms of our wellbeing, did you know that proper nutrition plays a vital role in mental health? With a growing mental health crisis in our region, it is imperative that we focus on getting healthy food to those with mental health issues that may not be able to afford it themselves. A healthy, whole foods diet also plays a key role in a child’s ability to focus and learn, and with many children in the area living in poverty, a program that can provide healthy food to these budding minds is an incredible investment.
By focusing on local food and local farming to help feed families, this little engine that could is pioneering a community-focused way of addressing our local health food crises. Those who need good food the most are often those that do not have access to it. Healthy food should not be a luxury, and with your help Small Scale Farms will be able to reach more people through farming lessons, food, and a strong volunteer community
The project is currently looking for participants in their Food Program (smallscalefarms.ca/the-food-program), teams to participate in the Feed A Family program (feedafamily.ca), volunteers in the kitchen, and clothing donations. For more information and to find out what you can do, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-844-SOW-SEED (769-7333).