The idea of creating a Community Food Centre has been maturing for several years in the Centre-Sud neighborhood of Montreal. It was based on a large number of meetings, portraits, pilot projects and diagnostics on food security. All of these studies have confirmed that the food security needs of the population of the Centre-Sud continue to deepen. Year after year, we have been witnessing an increase in the demand for emergency food assistance, to the detriment of the development of activities that truly promote food autonomy.
Taking inspiration from the transformation undertaken by The Stop in Toronto and the resulting Community Food Centers Canada, the Carrefour Solidaire sees itself as a local response to realities that exist far beyond our neighborhood.
The difficult philanthropic and financial context for community organizations in Quebec and the difficulties of establishing real collaborations between entities with separate governances led Rencontres-Cuisines and the Marché Solidaire Frontenac to carry out a corporate reform in 2013 in order to pool their resources, align their programming and activities, ensure a unified governance and carry a common mission: To improve access to healthy food by building the food autonomy of neighborhood residents. Carrefour Alimentaire Centre-Sud was born of this union. This union has led our organizations to put in place innovative and efficient strategies both at the organizational and service levels.
In 2021, the Carrefour officially became a Community Food Centre, and took the opportunity to update its visual identity and add exciting new programming, thus becoming the Carrefour Solidaire Community Food Centre.
Since 2007, Marché Solidaire Frontenac has initiated various actions, all with the main objective of improving access to healthy food. It has developed produce markets and innovated with mobile markets known as Fruixi, delivering fruit and vegetable baskets to businesses and homes. It has also participated in a regional local food supply initiative, has run programs in edible education in childcare centers and elementary schools with its Fruixi-jeunesse activities, and has piloted initiatives in urban and peri-urban agriculture. These years of intense activity allowed the organization to develop expertise, leadership and recognition both locally and regionally. Marché Solidaire Frontenac reaches more than 20,000 people per year.
Rencontres-Cuisines has been developing and running collective kitchens, cooking and gardening workshops, group purchasing initiatives, and various educational projects in partnership with neighborhood organizations since 1983. Through learning and mutual aid, all of its actions aim to increase the food autonomy of citizens and promote healthy eating for all. Rencontres Cuisines is committed to working with families in vulnerable situations. Since 2014, it has offered healthy, local meals to neighborhood families in the context of local, free activities. It is a charitable organization and receives funding from the province’s Support Program for Community Organizations. Each year, a dozen collective kitchen groups meet in the neighborhood in addition to workshops and activities open to the public.
Studies, projects and publications:
- Mapped inventory of food stores (2000)
- Profile of food security in the Centre-Sud neighbourhood (2002)
- Survey (and focus group) on the needs of neighbourhood food bank users (2003)
- Local symposium “Hunger, it takes means” (2004)
- Gateway to Food Security in the South Central Region” project (2005-2007)
- Marché Solidaire Frontenac” project (2007-2013)
- Diagnosis of the food sector (2010)
- Portrait of food environments (2013)