Monica Bettson has been a Community Chef at The Stop in Toronto’s West End since 2011. Just like our team here at The Drake and so many other organizations, Monica has had to quickly pivot to a new way of operating in these recent weeks.
Since they were founded in the late 1970’s, The Stop has been a place for community – a place where anyone could come through the doors to share a meal, a story, or a struggle they were facing. Despite their services shifting towards emergency food access through The Stop Food Bank and from drop-in to take-away dining, The Stop has managed to maintain dignity in their work, and to provide community-based food supports that are accessible to all.
Chef Monica has redesigned daily menus, being incredibly resourceful in the process to navigate the new realities and limitations of take-out for their community. Her team now faces a 30% increase in demand. On a normal day, Monica works with five volunteers to prepare a free plated lunch for up to 200 people. Now, The Stop culinary team serves up over 350 delicious and hearty take-out meals, and these numbers are rising fast. In order to be as safe and efficient as possible, there are now only two volunteers in the kitchen. These meals are made from the food donations they’ve received from restaurants such as The Drake, though our ongoing bread and soup stock program at the Commissary, as well as recent donations of perishables such as fruits + veg and staples like milk and eggs; or take-out containers from The Drakes pantry, to help meet the growing demand. Their Food Bank is facing a similar surge in demand, with 609 food hampers going out since March 16th. 250 of these were households who had never before used The Stop Food Bank, as more and more people struggle to put food on the table.
If you are able to, please consider making a donation today to support The Stop’s vital work in the weeks ahead here. Now until June 1, your donations are matched dollar for dollar by the Sprott Foundation. That’s twice the impact! As an independent, community-based charity, just 10% of their funding comes from government sources. Or, if you are looking to celebrate and do good at the same time, consider a Feaster dinner from The Drake this weekend – for every Feaster to-go order we’ll be donating one meal to our friends at The Stop.
Hear more about Chef Monica’s story, and The Stop’s good food philosophy, in the video below, or follow along @thestopcfc on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.