Nurturing the community

Good food can be life-changing.

NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre is changing lives, one good meal at a time, serving up more than 12,000 meals a year at the Tyndall Avenue centre in Winnipeg’s Inkster community.

Residents of the area face numerous food-related struggles, explains Lila Knox, the centre’s director. A few members of the Relish staff joined her for lunch and a tour to get a first-hand look at the work of the centre. NorWest is one of our many great clients, and an organization we’ve been proud to support through sponsorships of such events as The Art of Good Food, a night of live tastings and art.

A number of residents in the Inkster community worry about having enough to eat, or feel anxious, depressed and isolated. Knowing they can come to the centre for a meal every Monday, Wednesday and Friday is one way they can find relief. Indeed, 93% of people see the centre as an important source of healthy food, and 75% of people who visited the centre in 2015 say its programs contributed to positive changes in their mental health.

The goals of the centre include contributing to food security for residents, as well as improving health, and providing such nutritional education as food prep skills. In addition to the community lunches, the centre also offers after-school smoothies – ones that are blended by children’s pedal power on the centre’s smoothie bike, a unique stationary bike fitted with a blender attachment.

Meals are prepared using fresh food, by Chef Grant Mitchell, one of five staff members at the centre, who are supported by 50 volunteers.

The Good Food Market is another way the centre makes fruit and vegetables accessible and affordable for residents. They purchase in bulk and price produce individually, meaning those who only need to buy a few pieces of fruit are able to do so.

A Community Advocacy Office and community action training are also offered. Building trusting relationships through the food centre have also led to people receiving other supports they need, including access to health care and employment services, Knox says.

Stephanie Fulford is the centre’s gardening guru. As she walks through the garden, she stops to break open a plant’s seedpod, and offers our tour group a taste of the fresh herbs, growing only steps away from the kitchen door. The garden is more than a source of fresh food, she mentions. It’s also a gathering place and a peaceful refuge from stressful lives.

NorWest Co-op Community Food Centre is a partner site of Community Food Centres Canada, a national organization that’s driving the development of Community Food Centres across the country.

To learn more about the centre, visit