FINALIST 2014 – Heritage Toronto Award
It began as a food bank. It turned into a movement.
In 1998, when Nick Saul became executive director of The Stop, the little urban food bank was like thousands of other cramped, dreary, makeshift spaces, a last-hope refuge where desperate people could stave off hunger for one more day with a hamper full of canned salt, sugar and fat. The produce was wilted and the packaged foods were food-industry castoffs—mislabelled products and misguided experiments that no one wanted to buy. For users of the food bank, knowing that this was their best bet for a meal was a humiliating experience.
Since that time, The Stop has undergone a radical reinvention. Participation has overcome embarrassment, and the isolation of poverty has been replaced with a vibrant community that uses food to build hope and skills, and to reach out to those who need a meal, a hand and a voice. It is now a thriving, internationally respected Community Food Centre with gardens, kitchens, a greenhouse, farmers’ markets and a mission to revolutionize our food system. Celebrities and benefactors have embraced the vision because they have never seen anything like The Stop. Best of all, fourteen years after his journey started, Nick Saul is introducing this neighbourhood success story to the world.
In telling the remarkable story of The Stop’s transformation, Saul and Curtis argue that we need a new politics of food, one in which everyone has a dignified, healthy place at the table. By turns funny, sad and raw, The Stop is a timely story about overcoming obstacles, challenging sacred cows and creating lasting change.
NICK SAUL was executive director of The Stop Community Food Centre in Toronto from 1998 to 2012 and is a recipient of the prestigious Jane Jacobs Prize and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. He is now president and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada, an organization that will bring the innovations of The Stop to communities across Canada. www.cfccanada.ca
ANDREA CURTIS is an award-winning writer and editor. Her family memoir, Into the Blue: Family Secrets and the Search for a Great Lakes Shipwreck, won the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. Curtis’s first children’s book is What’s for Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World. www.andreacurtis.ca
SAUL and CURTIS live with their two boys in Toronto.
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FINALIST 2014 – Taste Canada Awards—English-language Culinary Narratives Category
FINALIST 2014 – Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award
FINALIST 2014 – Toronto Book Awards
“The Stop is an inspiring true story about how a low-income neighbourhood used good food to take charge of its community—it’s a great lesson for all of us.”
“The riveting inside story of a food bank that through perseverance and principle turned itself into one of our most visionary movements for justice and equality.”
—Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine and No Logo
“Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis have written a book that is both engaging and inspiring. Weaving the stories of members of the Stop community with observations from as far away as Brazil, they have given voice to the dilemmas that confront the food movement as it tries to respond simultaneously to the needs of poor people, the demands of justice, the fragility of the environment, and rising rates of diet-related disease. I love this book, both for the story it tells and for the spirit of hope and determination that pervades it. All food activists should read it.”
—Janet Poppendieck, author of Free for All: Fixing School Food in America and Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement
“The journey that The Stop has undergone is in many ways the journey that the world food system must undergo. This Community Food Centre has realized that giving food handouts is not enough to durably tackle food poverty. And it has found ways to move beyond this approach and to connect low-income communities with healthy food and empower them to change their lives. The Stop has tackled the multiple, complex causes of food poverty head-on, and its story is therefore one that should be read by everyone who wants to see an end to the inequalities and injustices of the world food system.”
—Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
“The Stop reads like a compelling novel…but it’s all real. This book enables readers to join the frontier of true democracy, where we hear the voices, smell the aromas, and feel the stories of people creating communities of mutuality. Food becomes the ‘uniter’ of cultures and generations—where each of us feels respect and has voice. Read it and see possibilities for yourself and our world that maybe you’ve never seen before.”
—Frances Moore Lappé, author of EcoMind and Diet for a Small Planet
“This is an important book. The Stop is no ordinary account of the substantial benefits of soup kitchens to servers and served. It is an impassioned account of how to create food systems that foster independence and eliminate the indignities of charity. Saul and Curtis put a human face on poverty. If you want to know what today’s food movement is really about—and why it is anything but elitist—read this book.”
—Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of What to Eat
“Everyone concerned with the practical realities of fighting hunger needs to read Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis’s brave and important book. In clear and honest prose, they share their struggles and hope with plain talk through tough decisions. How better to learn about ending hunger than through the story of a former food bank whose aim was to put itself out of business?”
—Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved
“One of the most important things about food is learning to share it. What Nick Saul established with The Stop is a model for challenging the idea of what emergency food for the hungry is and what it can be. Read this extraordinary story of how The Stop created a community and is changing the lives of people, one meal at a time.”