HR4RF 2018!

A BIG thank you to our wonderful Riders, Fundraisers, and Volunteers who showed up with big smiles, positive energy and rain gear to complete this year's Ride4RealFood. It was a shorter Ride this year as the rain was energetically falling but we still had our usual delicious picnic. The West End Food Co-op, with donations from multiple vendors, whipped up a yummy lunch. The PARC musicians also braved the rain to perform for everyone.

If you would still like to donate, you can do so at

Co-op Cred Presents at U of T

On January 25, 2018 Co-op Cred participants Ann Lapenna and James Semple presented the ins and outs of the Co-op Cred program to the students in the Urban Political Economy class of the Human Geography course at University of Toronto Scarborough. This presentation has now been made 2 years in a row and Professor Michelle Buckley cites it as a highlight of the course.

Ann and James not only highlighted their specific placements and the responsibilities associated with them but shared the impact of the program in their lives. They also successfully fielded tons of student questions!

A big thank you to Ann and James for representing Co-op Cred!

Ann Lapenna Presenting.jpg

Ann Lapenna

sharing her Co-op Cred role and experiences with the students at U of T Scarborough.

Bring Food Home 2017

Co-op Cred was pleased to present, as part of the PARC team, at the Sustain Ontario Bring Food Home 2017 conference on October 27th in Ottawa.

PARC presented three initiatives aimed at improving food security in Toronto at the micro (in our local neighborhood) and macro (across the city) levels. These initiatives included FoodReach, Creating Health Plus and Co-op Cred. Our messaging focused on 3 areas:

  • The role of food as the center of a holistic program model. Food security is not simply access to healthy food; PARC’s programs improve food literacy, reduce social isolation, support chronic disease prevention and promotes employment skill development.
  • The success of PARC’s cross-sectoral and diverse collaborative strategies. Partnerships are the lifeblood of all our programs!
  • The acquisition of first hand examples of system solutions in action.

Our hope was that attendees investigate replicating aspects of our program models in their own communities.

Ride Day 2017

Ride Day 2017, Sunday September 10, was a spectacular day! Mother Nature rewarded us with a clear, sunny and warm day.

This year's Ride would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our volunteer Ride committee; our wonderful partners:  West End Food Co-op, Toronto Regional Conservation Authority & the Centre for Mindfulness Studies; Pre-Ride & Ride Day volunteers; our generous sponsors; & all of the Riders who fund raised to support the Co-op Cred Program. Thank you!

Here are some photos....

What's Cooking At West End Food Co-op?

West End Food Co-op (WEFC) is a long-time friend and partner of Co-op Cred. WEFC currently works with 4 in-kitchen Co-op Cred participants. Working in the kitchen allows participants to gain experience in more ways than one.  From food handling, preparation and safety skills, to communication and team building skills, participants describe the program to be an ongoing learning experience.

Sonya Gammal, Kitchen Coordinator, has been making sourdough bread at West End Food Coop for 4 years now!

Sonya Gammal, Kitchen Coordinator, has been making sourdough bread at West End Food Coop for 4 years now!

There’s always something yummy cooking in the West End Food Co-op Kitchen! Aside from the daily Grab n’ Go’s and fresh meals made in-store, West End Food Co-op hosts monthly workshops in their kitchen.

On July 5th, the Co-op Kitchen Team accommodated a full house of 12 participants during the Sourdough Bread Workshop. Not only do participants have the opportunity to make their own sourdough loaves, but they are taught the history, theory, and practice of its making.

The Parkdale sourdough starter is prepped the day before. When participants come in for the workshop, they are guided through the process of using and making the bread. Participants also learn about the fermentation process, which is friendly for the gut! The dough works by resting, and involves a no knead method. Best of all, participants get to take home a freshly baked loaf!

West End Food Co-op also offers subsidized spots for their workshops. This provides food training and healthy eating to those who may not otherwise have access to such programming. By working together, West End Food Co-op and the participants create more than just bread; they create a hub for healthy eating that is accessible to all. The West End Food Co-op workshops are tasty, educational, and fun!

Every participant walks away with knowledge, hands-on skills, and new friendships! Don’t forget about the sourdough!

To learn more about this amazing workshop, along with the many other programs that West End Food Co-op offers, click here!  

Taking The Lead

Sonam Yangzom, long time Co-op Cred member and gardener extraordinaire has stepped in to lead this year's gardening team. On Wednesday June 7, Sonam, along with several other participants, took to the Dunn Garden to work under the hot sun. Sonam’s incredible green thumb shone as her passion and leadership radiated throughout the day. Members worked together to plant seeds, water the crops and do good for the community. From carrots and peas, to beets and beans, everyone’s contributions made the gardening easy peasy.

New Seeds, New Beginnings

Monique Kelemen, Greenest City's long time program coordinator and Co-op Cred supervisor of Dunn Garden, has left us to begin a new adventure studying social work at Dalhousie University. She left us with these parting words…

"It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to Greenest City and the Parkdale Community.

I came to Greenest City in 2013 looking for a volunteer opportunity to occupy my time, and I am leaving a totally different person. It is because of my time here that I have decided to move to Halifax, Nova Scotia to study Social Work at Dalhousie University.

In this community, I learned that food is just the beginning of the conversation. At Greenest City, the food grown in our community gardens is not going to lift anyone out of food insecurity, but the relationships and growth of self-esteem instead is what really affects change. I moved to Toronto – to Parkdale - at a pivotal point in my life. I was lacking in friends and confidence, but quickly found it in the gardens. And the days are rare now that I walk down Queen Street West and don't hear my name or exchange a wave across the street.

In HOPE Garden, I learned that even a tiny piece of land can mean the world to someone.

In Milky Way Garden, I learned that while we may face pesky squirrels in our own plot, our neighbour may be facing elephants.

In Dunn Garden, I learned that even the smallest of tomato plants can survive in a wind tunnel with a little support.

And in Parkdale, I learned that communities are so much richer when a diversity of lived experiences come together to share a meal.

So thank-you, to everyone that welcomed me into your community through a smile, a wave, a momo, or a tomato. I feel so fortunate to have spent four years of my life in this community and hope to return one day."

-Monique Kelemen

We wish her the best on her next chapter and we want to thank her for her four years of loyalty, support and hard work for the Co-op Cred program.

We will miss you Monique!!

Co-op Cred Participants Help CredRaise at Concert

On a hot day in August, seven participants and friends of the Co-op Cred Program hit the pavement and raised nearly $3000 at a show at the Molson Amplitheatre.

This was all thanks to the American charity, WhyHunger, and the rap metal music group Prophets of Rage. The charity connects touring musicians with local initiatives in the cities they are performing. The band chose to support PARC and the Co-op Cred Program, and called the audience to donate to the cause throughout the evening.

The participants did an amazing job engaging with the crowd of 14,000 people and collected $2848.20 that will be turned into cred earned through meaningful community work.

Parkdale Social Safety Net

In collaboration with PARC , Greenest City, and Myseum of Toronto, Co-op Cred Program Participant, Helen Melbourne, lead and executed an amazing, interactive installation in in the hall of the Church of Epiphany and St. Mark.

From the artist:

In Parkdale, the social safety net is a patchwork collection of both formal and informal community supports... The sections of net are unique and colourful as the people who live here. And it is the people who provide the strongest links in the net.

...The use of recycled materials to construct the net highlights the resourcefulness of the Parkdale community - where little is wasted but is given new life, often as a way of stretching the few available resources.