It’s only 8 a.m. and Chef Emillio is already working his magic in the kitchen, preparing a healthy and delicious breakfast for those who rely on the services of 416 Community Support for Women, one of Daily Bread’s member agencies. With the help of his kitchen assistants, Emillio will prepare breakfast as well as lunch and a special supper for individuals with heart-related health problems. These meals are served to over 100 women every day using donations that they receive from Daily Bread Food Bank as well as other organizations.
Located in a large Victorian home in the East end of Toronto, 416 Community Support for Women is a daytime drop in program for women looking for support while coping with isolation, addiction and mental health issues. The support offered by 416 to these women takes many forms. Rosie Smythe, Executive Director, explains that the overall goal of the agency is create a home away from home, a safe place for women to come and be part of a community where they belong.
Along with providing daily meals, 416 volunteers and staff also hold a weekly food bank and fresh produce market which serves 70 to 80 women. When the fresh produce market was first introduced, a lot of time and energy went into educating women on the importance of regularly eating fruits and vegetables. Over time the market has become increasing popular and is now run by the women themselves.
The food program at 416 is a vital part of providing support and meeting the basic needs of individuals who are coping with mental health, addiction and isolation. For many of these women meeting the deeper issues is on the backburner if they don’t have proper food, good nutrition and a place to come and be part of a community. Women who use the services of 416 gain access to a community of support which includes weekly medical clinics, mental health and addiction case management services and life skills training. In addition, 416 offers alternative programs in self-healing which include yoga, meditation and acupuncture.
Open seven days a week and 365 days a year, 416 has an extensive volunteer program with various social recreation activities. Many women come to 416 for breakfast or lunch, and stay to participate in an art class, garden club or knitting circle. One of the goals of 416 is to create a safe and welcoming community where the women have a sense of ownership. Rosie Smythe explains, “this is their place and we all need to take care of it… we’ve got a saying that you take care of yourself, take care of each other and take care of this place.”
For more information on 416 Community Support for Women you can visit their webpage or drop in and say hello.