Street Haven: Operation Soul Food
It’s no secret that there are homeless people in Toronto. We see them sleeping on the sidewalk, begging for money and rummaging through the garbage for scraps and leftovers. And while there’s your fair share of bums who can afford smokes and food to keep their dog well-fed (which boggles my mind), there’s also a good chunk who have been forced to leave their homes due to abuse. Living conditions become so unbearable that taking to the street is the only other option. Luckily there are places like Street Haven where women can seek shelter & safety and get off the street.
According to their website:
“Street Haven, a Toronto agency that has been serving women for over 47 years, is a multi-program agency that offers women a broad range of services to women including emergency shelter, addiction services, supportive housing and a learning centre. This continuum of services includes immediate support for women who come to Street Haven at the Crossroads off the street, the provision of meals and a place to sleep, a place to grow and a place to live independently, in accordance with what each individual woman is ready to handle and in recognition of the varied potential of each women.”
I was asked to become an ambassador for their Operation Soul Food initiative because of my work with food & nutrition and I jumped at the opportunity to give back to the community. Street Haven hosted the ambassadors and the media for a luncheon today and it was great to get a first-hand look at their facilities and have an opportunity to speak to the women. We toured the kitchen where their hard-working cook, Jennifer, was busy prepping a delicious lunch of green salad with cucumber and broccoli, vegetable soup and turkey sandwiches. I joked that it was a better meal than many of the lunches I got in high school. It just goes to show the pride that Street Haven takes in caring for the women who come to them for help.
We all know the roll food plays in our health. Good, balanced & nourishing meals are critical for growth, recovery, brain health, immune strength and overall well-being. And I may go on and on about the importance of buying organic, grass-fed, unpasteurized and naturally-fermented products and foods, but when you’re living on the street finding “happy” meat is the least of your concerns. Finding food, period, can be a challenge. When women come to Street Haven they aren’t fed the typical refined foods that are often provided by food banks. They have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and unprocessed meals. On my tour of the shelter we were told that their cook makes a fresh soup each day!
When women are recovering from whatever brought them to Street Haven (98% of the time it’s abuse) getting plenty of vitamins, minerals and nutrients will help them to back on their feet more effectively than if they were provided refined, white flour, sugary meals.
Now, feeding people ain’t cheap! In fact, it costs:
- $16.72 feeds one woman for a day
- $117.04 feeds one woman for a week
- $502.60 feeds one woman for a month
Each year Street Haven spends $100,000 on food. That’s a lot of cake! And to ensure their meal program continues to provide such quality meals we need your help!
If you would like to donate to their food program then you can do it here: DONATE to Operation Soul Food
And if you want to donate to their shelter program you can do so here: DONATE to Street Haven
They are always looking for clothing and bedding donations. So if you’re purging your wardrobe think about giving your old clothes to Street Haven. No gross, stained or hole-y clothes, towels or bedding please.
For more information about Operation Soul Food: http://www.streethaven.myevent.com/3/miscellaneous1.htm
For more information about Street Haven: http://www.streethaven.com/
Connect with Street Haven on Twitter @streethaven