west end food coop

One of Toronto’s original food co-ops is closing

Parkdale is losing a beloved community staple at the end of the month: the West End Food Co-op (WEFC). 

After eight years of providing local produce, workshops, and employment opportunities to vulnerable households and marginalized community members, the non-profit grocery store will be closing on July 31 due to financial reasons. 

It comes as a big loss to an area that's already been besieged with rising rentthe reduction of rooming houses, and unwanted condos

For the last year and a half, WEFC had been searching for a new home after being informed they'd have to vacate their space in the lower level of the Parkdale Community Health Centre, to make room for the Centre's expanding services. 

Until then, the co-op had been paying just under $30,000 a year in rent. Unfortunately, it seems they weren't able to find a new space of equal affordability, and on June 13 took to Facebook to announce the store's impending closure.

A letter to members stated, "Despite significant efforts to secure a financially-viable space, we have concluded that, with the exception of the Sorauren Farmers' Market, we will be closing all the operations of the Co-op." 

That means the WEFC's grocery store and commercial kitchen, which sold locally-sourced products and hosted workshops like kombucha-making and sour dough-baking, will soon be gone. 

"We don't need to tell you that Parkdale is changing," the letter says. "We are confident that our deep roots and strong relationships here will enable us to contribute to new projects meaningfully." 

The WEFC's Co-Op Cred program – which provided employment workshops and healthy food to participants –  will continue to run, and according to the co-op's board, they're looking at new ways to operate wholesale and catering services for the community. 

In the meantime, Toronto's remaining co-ops have been reduced to older organizations such as Karma Food Co-op in the Annex.

Lead photo by

Janice Valdez


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