Caledon Community Services rolling out list of poverty reduction efforts
By Matthew Strader, Enterprise Staff
It’s arguably the watershed moment for Caledon Community Services (CCS), but staff isn’t waiting for a ribbon cutting. Poverty reduction efforts at Caledon’s largest social service agency will get a substantial boost this fall when the organization cuts the ribbon and opens the doors to a 3,600 square foot food service hub tentatively named the “Caledon Exchange”.
The hub will be a combination kitchen, storage and sorting facilities, as well as lounge, office and communal space for staff and clients. The intent is to run programs, hold classes, to teach the community to fish instead of simply laying out that frozen flounder on the counter. “The intention is to provide that healthy, engaged, compassionate community for all,” said Executive Director Monty Laskin, after CCS’ annual annual general meeting. “This facility will give us the opportunity to get the entire community involved in that.â€ But CCS isn’t waiting for the doors to open to expand its programming and begin the educational efforts this location will showcase. Kim D’Eri, manager of poverty reduction partnerships, said some of the funding for the programming is in place, and her staff simply couldn’t slow down.
The momentum at CSS has ramped up during the past few months as plans for the food service hub come together. Her staff plan an activity to educate Caleodn residents about food or access to food once a month throughout the year. They started in May by collaborating a Hunger Awareness week campaign that saw 10 notable Caledon residents participate in the food box program for one week and blog about their experience on the CCS website. The campaign engaged 5,000 Caledon residents, and the organization secured 25 new volunteers.
This past month staff hosted a workshop to teach techniques of planting fruits and vegetables in small areas. Fourteen adults and eight children registered for the interactive experience. Each participant planted a cherry tomato plant, received tips on planting other vegetables, recipes and ways to freeze and preserve their harvest. “The children planted cucumbers, received information about eating healthy and played food related games,” said D’Eri. “July’s session will focus on Extreme Couponing.” A local Caledon resident who is schooled in this practice of bargain hunting will show other shoppers how she dominates the coupon system. “It’s a really incredible thing,” D’Eri said, sharing stories of the ‘couponer’ showing up at a store with only a few dollars and walking out like she’d spent hundreds. “We have a number of people interested in this one (class).”
In August, the CCS poverty reduction staff is bringing a course that will solve a number of issues for anyone who has ended up in the grocery aisle staring at percentages, and scientific names that read unrecognizably. “In August, a registered dietician from William Osler will talk about nutrition and what to look for when reading the labels from cans,” D’Eri said. And staff continue to work on new initiatives. With United Way funding in place to add educational food-related curriculum to the existing food support program, they simply can’t help themselves.
“We have various volunteer groups actively working on initiatives to secure perishable and non-perishable foods for when our new facility opens (and) our Kidz in Caledon campaign is in full swing – this campaign helps to provide support to the food program as well as assist local children with basic needs like supervised day care during the summer, and preparation for school in September,” D’Eri added. The manager also warned that each session does have limited seating, so for more information or to register for a session contact D’Eri at (905) 584-2300 ext. 202 or firstname.lastname@example.org