Everybody should have access to good food, not just food.

The CRC | Regent Park Community Food Centre is located in Toronto’s downtown east in the heart of Regent Park which is currently in the midst of a revitalization that is transforming the community into a unique mixed social and market housing model.

Within this blended community is the CRC, as it is known to friends, a community-based, multi-service organization that for over 50 years has offered a wide variety of programs for low-income individuals in Regent Park. Through the Regent Park Community Food Centre, CRC offers Food Skills and Advocacy programs, and facilitates community allotment gardens where people living in the neighbourhood can grow their own produce. CRC’s drop-in Meal Program serves 55,000 free nutritious and delicious meals a year.

Norberto Cáceres, Community Chef at CRC, believes that wholesome, sustainable food is an integral part of this community.

“Donations from the Second Harvest food delivery program make a substantial difference to our Meal Program, with fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and yogurt donations supplementing our ever-increasing food costs,” he says. “We are truly grateful for the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that we receive. The rescued food is in great shape which allows us to provide healthy snacks, like fruits and granola bars, which can be used for the entire week.”

One week, Second Harvest had a business donate shrimp and Chef Cáceres remembers it well.  “Three cases of shrimp arrived, probably around a $200 value.  I was able to make Paella – a traditional Spanish dish. People were very happy to receive an item in their meal that we can’t typically afford.”

“Everybody should have access to good food, not just food.”
Chef Norberto Cáceres

The food focus of the Community Food Centre has expanded to include education and pre-employment training, a long-time goal of the CRC. The new Culinary Skills Training program includes Catering Enterprise Training and Sustainable Food Sector Training programs that encompass free Safe Food Handlers Certification training, and sessions in menu creation, recipe writing, knife skills, baking and pastry, kitchen math, and even resumé writing. These skill-sets are great stepping stones for participants to find employment in the food industry.

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“When people are living in difficult conditions and their immune systems are weak, we want to offer them a wholesome, fully nutritious plate of food.”  Because of the bounty of fresh ingredients in rescued food that Second Harvest provides to the CRC | Regent Park Community Food Centre, Chef Cáceres has been able to redirect funds to augment other types of ingredients to include nutrient-rich items, such as seeds and quinoa.

“Providing fresh, healthy food in our food programs is as important to me as the food I prepare for my family at home. I want to make food that I believe in.”

Second Harvest is proud to rescue food and deliver it into communities like Regent Park to help make lives better.