The speech below, delivered by Matthew Kemshaw at the announcement of the purchase of the Food Security Distribution Centre, is a testament to the power of community and the dedication of so many towards a vision of food security, where every resident in the Capital Region enjoys access to fresh, healthy and culturally appropriate food.
The purchase of 808 Viewfield Road, securing the 22,000sq/ft Food Security Distribution Centre, is a significant step towards that vision, but also the beginning of so much more.
The Victoria Foundation is proud to be a partner in this work and is humbled by the commitment of all the people and organizations who have been involved in making the purchase of the Food Security Distribution Centre possible. The purchase is the culmination of years of work and a bit of luck along the way.
Matthew is the Executive Director of LifeCycles Project Society and delivered this speech during the unveiling event at the Centre in June 2019. The Centre was purchased by The Mustard Seed Street Church, a member and operational partner of the Food Share Network, with the support of the Province of BC, Vancity and the Victoria Foundation. The purchase secures the Food Rescue Project for the long-term and provides a key piece of community infrastructure for the region’s local food economy.
“The Food Share Network is a collaborative effort of more than 60 community agencies who are working to end hunger in our region. Together we have set ourselves the ambitious goal of ensuring that no one in our community will worry where their next meal is coming from.
The network was born from an understanding that by working together, we can do more. We stopped grinding old axes and sat down to collectively solve some pernicious problems. I want to acknowledge the tireless effort, over many years, these organizations and individuals have made. Without them, none of this would exist.
In the beginning, and still do this day, the Food Share Network has been led by five agencies pursuing a goal to break free of the old food bank model – to share food in a more dignified, empowering way. This vision was to turn food into a seed for growth.
First, the one we all know, the Mustard Seed Street Church. The Mustard Seed has stepped up in the face of extreme financial uncertainty and risk to carry the Food Rescue Project into becoming – and they have quickly turned this project into a community institution depended on by thousands of people. Derek Pace and the staff here at Mustard Seed are gems who truly understand the power of working together.
But there are other organizations who have worked tirelessly, from the beginning, to make this possible. Don Evans at Our Place Society has been there since the beginning – a calm, intelligent voice encouraging all of us to think critically about long term sustainability, but more importantly, to think compassionately and without bias – to ensure that all are included in the services and programming we offer.
Angela Hudson from the Society of St Vincent de Paul has also been there since the beginning – keeping us honest and always accountable to our goals, our vision, and a transparent and open process.
Pat Humble from the Salvation Army has also been there from the beginning offering humour, humility, deep compassion and kindness.
Lori Ferguson and before her Donna McKenna from the Victoria Cool Aid Society have been consistent, clear, collaborative leaders at the Food Share Network since its beginning as well.
The Mustard Seed, Our Place, St Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army and Cool-Aid are now the permanent members guiding this work. But many others have also contributed tirelessly to making this possible.
Linda Geggie from CR-FAIR has literally held this vision for decades. A community organizer second to none, Linda has and will continue to lift this Food Redistribution project into something that is truly good, and truly transformative, for our local food economy. Linda knows better than anyone that this is not an end, but just a beginning for a much more impactful shift in the way we feed people – one that is rooted in place, in community, and in justice.
Trisha Hood and Dorothea Harris have brought patience, compassion and community to our table as representatives of the Esquimalt First Nation, and we are forever grateful for their guidance and wisdom.
Danielle Stevenson and Lee Herrin from the Coalition of Neighborhood Houses have also brought community consciousness to the table from the beginning.
I also want to acknowledge the Victoria Foundation who have been much more than funders of the Food Share Network since it began. Carol Hall and Rudi Wallace have worked tirelessly over many years to make this day a reality and they deserve a most sincere and heart felt thank you for their vision and dedication.
Finally – I want to say a huge thank you especially to the many local Nations and schools, groups we have particularly sought to work with and involve, for your commitment to community, your vision for collaboration and your willingness to walk this road with us.
I also want to thank Paul Hadfield and his staff at Spinnakers. LifeCycles has shared space next door with Spinnakers for three years and Paul has supported this movement, and LifeCycles, for well over a decade. It is also true that none of this would be possible without Spinnakers.
I have excluded more groups than I have included in this speech. Please know that each of the 60 member agencies of the Food Share Network deserve thanks and acknowledgement for making this all possible.
None of this would be possible without these people and organizations. And this is just the very beginning!
We have a vision to turn this place into a world leading centre for food action and food systems change. Sharing surplus perishables is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more that we can do to utilize this hub as a force for localizing our food – the next step is to ensure that what everyone eats is contributing to the health of this land and all who live here.
The LifeCycles Project Society is grateful, indeed is truly humbled, to have had the privilege of walking with so many incredible leaders to help this happen. We will continue to work in collaboration with the Food Share Network to make better food more available to all. Because what we eat should support thriving, diverse communities and a healthy planet.
This is truly a beginning. I just cannot wait for you all to see what we will do together, with this place secured long-term as a community asset.