Inspiring Access to GOOD Food – Glen Oaks

Food for Life focuses on redistributing fresh, nutritious food through our unique food rescue and distribution system. From community and neighbourhood food programs to supporting recreational initiatives in the communities we serve, we make sure that residents of Halton, Hamilton, and beyond have access to healthy food.

Our community is diverse, and we tailor our programs to meet community needs. “Some of our programs are for anyone to attend and are held in open community spaces. We also run programs in co-operative housing and seniors’ buildings,” says Donna Slater, Director of Impact and Research. “We run our seniors’ programs, which are in seniors’ buildings, that are specific to the residents who live in the building. We also run Food for Life programs in co-operative housing complexes for families and seniors. We get food into neighbourhoods making it more accessible,” added Slater.

One of those co-operative housing complexes is Glen Oaks Co-op, a six-storey high-rise housing co-operative centrally located in Oakville that provides mixed-income affordable housing. For ten years, Food for Life has worked with Glen Oaks to provide residents with GOOD food weekly in their building.

Food for Life’s Glen Oaks program has grown over the years and now provides approximately 70 fresh food bags per week to residents who choose to access the program.

“In a co-op, the idea is to engage and create an environment that allows people living there to run the program,” says Slater. This partnership was originally run by residents in the building but is now managed by a dedicated resident supported by a team of volunteers, including one who lives in the building. “Through COVID, she hasn’t missed a Thursday! It’s amazing how the right people in the right roles make amazing things happen,”

Donna Slater

“In a co-op, the idea is to engage and create an environment that allows people living there to run the program,” says Slater. This partnership was originally run by residents in the building but is now managed by a dedicated resident supported by a team of volunteers, including one who lives in the building. “Through COVID, she hasn’t missed a Thursday! It’s amazing how the right people in the right roles make amazing things happen,” says Slater.

Food for Life volunteers pack more than 70 fresh food bags and bins for Glen Oaks in our warehouse each week that are customized for recipients according to family size. The program is traditionally set up in the Glen Oaks’ community room where residents will come and pick up their GOOD food bag. However, with COVID-19 precautions in place, we’ve pivoted to doing a bag drop at residents’ doors.

For a while, residents in a sister building without a community space were being invited over to pick up food. Inspired by the program at Glen Oaks, Food for Life has been working with the complex’s sister buildings to provide food supports in those buildings as well.

Slater says one of her favourite parts of the program is the community sharing area where residents can leave items they won’t use for others.

“Some might say, ‘I don’t want this cantaloupe, so I’m going to put it in the sharing area. But I see beans and I want beans, so I’m going to take the beans.’ You could take whatever you wanted from the sharing area,” says Slater.

After all, good food is meant to be shared.

To learn more about how we rescue and distribute food, visit https://foodforlife.ca/who-we-are/