Why is it Important?
The Co-op Cred Program (CCP) is designed to address systemic challenges that prevent many of Parkdale's marginalized residents from both eating healthily and fully participating in the local economy. In South Parkdale according to a recent City of Toronto census, close to 35% of residents are low-income, and 13% are unemployed.
Many participants face significant barriers to re-entering the workforce, such as lack of Canadian experience, long-term unemployment, stigma attached to mental health, and the unpredictable nature of a health condition.
First and foremost, Co-op Cred recognizes each individual has a unique set of lived experiences that requires supportive and adaptive placements in order to see any success. We have learned together that a one-size-fits-all program design will have limited impacts.
The CCP has enabled participants to gain a firm footing from which to rebuild their relationship between work and quality of life. This lesson has encouraged us to shift our focus from generating short-term outcomes to planning for long-term goals to support rebuilding their healthy lives.
Food is the beginning of the conversation. Every participant has benefited from greater access to healthy food through the program, but what each person has accomplished after that is unique and informed by their own experiences. Outcomes are diverse, but key outcomes are health and recovery, knowledge gain, food literacy, peer support activity, peer leadership, employment, and housing transition.
Relevant reading & resources:
- Parkdale Community Economic Development Planning Project: Parkdale Planning Study
- Beyond Bread and Butter; Toward food security in a changing Parkdale
- Five Things You Need to Know About Food Insecurity in Canada
- Shutting Food Bank First step in Program to Add respect to Feeding Hungry