Apr 19, 2024

Oasis Dufferin Community Centre: Supporting community through essential programming 

Oasis Dufferin Community Centre has been serving the Dufferin-Davenport community since 1994. At the time, founder Phyllis Ortiz saw the need for new Canadians to have access to a place that would meet their emotional, physical and spiritual needs. Since then, it has become an integral part of the dynamic community it serves.  

At the heart of their programming is a holistic approach to support. “We strive to create diverse programs that focus on overall health, as well as mental health”, says Harry, Food Programs Manager at Oasis Dufferin.  

In addition to their food bank, which is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Oasis Dufferin offers a community dinner on Tuesday evenings, along with varied seniors programming and counselling services for Spanish-speaking women. 

Each program incorporates a focus on nutrition and healthy eating, when possible, because of the impact that food has on overall health. Oasis Dufferin also partners with other community organizations to provide broader health promotion services, mental health resources and educational tools to better serve their clients.  

The team says that because there can often be a stigma surrounding the kind of food that food banks and meal programs have to offer, people are often surprised by the volume of healthy and nutritious food that clients are receiving.  

But like many agencies and programs across the city, Oasis Dufferin has seen a significant rise in clients accessing emergency food services. On average, Daily Bread member food banks are now serving over 12,500 new clients each month, six times more than before the pandemic.  

“When I started here, we would aim to have 100 of all food items set aside, and if we got 80 clients, that was considered a busy week. We now serve 400 or 500 clients a week”, says Harry, who has been with Oasis Dufferin for over five years.  

That sentiment is also felt by Kevin, a student who has been working at Oasis Dufferin for the past few months. “Every week, I look at the numbers and I’m surprised,” he says. “Last week I checked in over 160 people through intake in 3 hours.” 

As rates of food insecurity continue to rise across the city, it’s clear that change is necessary. But the team remains optimistic. “We’re realistic, but we’re hopeful that changes will happen through advocacy and with more knowledge and people pushing for change,” says Amy, Programs and Community Relations Manager at Oasis Dufferin. 

Daily Bread Food Bank’s network consists of 132 agencies, and 207 food programs, like Oasis Dufferin, who work hard to provide the best support to meet the needs of their membership and the communities they serve. 

Click here if you would like to support Daily Bread’s essential food programs. 

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