Sistering

Sistering is a women’s agency serving homeless, marginalized and low-income women in Toronto since 1981. Their programs and services help women gain greater control over their life circumstances by focusing on changing the social conditions that put women at risk. Their service philosophy is to ensure that women’s dignity is not eroded by poverty and homelessness.

Hot Meal For Lunch

One of the ways Sistering advocates for the enhanced well-being of women is through their Food Security and Access program. Seven days a week staff and volunteers work tirelessly to prepare and serve both breakfast and hot lunches to more than 200 women everyday. Providing one of life’s basic necessities – healthy food – addresses the social, physical and emotional needs of the women who come to the drop-in.

Chef Carol and Chef Trisha (Red)

Chef Carol, the Kitchen Coordinator, and Chef Trisha (Red) are two integral members of the Food Access program. Both suggest having access to food is part of the peacebuilding process in the community they serve. Trisha articulates, “If someone is well fed, well nourished with a good meal, they feel a sense of security because their mental ability, their physical ability is taken care of. Having control of the most important factors of life – food and shelter – empowers women to continue to take care of their whole being.” Carol concurs, “Having access to food sustains a sense of peace and respect for women. At Sistering, we accept women where they’re at. By meeting them there, trust is created and brings women to the next level. It’s capacity building.”

The Food Access program builds community in a supportive environment built upon trust and respect. Carol reflects, “When you are hungry and someone gives you food, you know we care. That’s what Sistering does – brings women together to nourish our community. The women who come to Sistering are not just another statistic. They feel safe and know they are nurtured. I am proud to be a part of bringing that support and encouragement to women through our Food Access program.” Trisha respects women as “the nurturers. When women are nurtured through food they have the strength to nurture others and that builds peace. Peace means everybody getting along and cooperating for the betterment of human kind.” She affirms, “Food unites people and gives women self-worth especially if you haven’t had enough food. Here at Sistering, everyone is equal. Access to food and the diversity of meals is fair.”

Volunteer Serving Food

Carol, Trisha and volunteers prepare healthy food daily for a racially, culturally and linguistically diverse population through their commitment to principles of equity and access. Trisha expresses, “The food is made with love and respect. We are committed to making meals from diverse cultures to respect every woman who comes to the drop-in.” Carol agrees, “Diversity – a must. Many of the women are refugees and immigrants, and can meet other women from their communities and other communities. Food can be a part of enhancing their quality of life.” Carol and Trisha celebrate the diverse cultural holidays by preparing innovative meals for Black History Day, Chinese New Year, Sisterbana, Passover, Jewish New Year and Christmas Winter Luncheon.

Thank-you to Chef Carol and Chef Red for opening up your kitchen and sharing your stories about how food builds peace. You are leaders in advocating for systemic change to improve the lives of women who have been impacted by poverty and homelessness.

Chef Trisha’s Stuffed Pepper Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 cups wild rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 squash, halved
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 4 cans asparagus spears
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cans corn, drained
  • 3 onions, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 beets, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Sprinkle of thyme, sage, savory spices, rosemary
  • Feta cheese, cubed or preference

Directions

Cook rice in vegetable broth. Let cool and place in large bowl.

Boil squash, drain and place in pan.

Sauté onions, carrots, corn, beets, 3 types of beans, garlic and all spices.

Place in large bowl with rice. Add asparagus spears and diced tomatoes. Mix together.

Stuff each squash half with vegetable/rice mixture.

Sprinkle cheese on top of mixture.

Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

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