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seeds of hope toronto

Toronto chili makers are helping keep people fed and warm this winter

Through a community callout, Rebecca Davies has been accumulating enough chili to keep people in Toronto warm and fed for weeks.

In February, she put out a call for chili makers on social media, saying she was expanding on a Toronto chili program.

"Here's how it works: you make a big pot of chili (meat or veg), put it in big zip-locs, freeze or refrigerate it, and it gets picked up on a Sunday — you can do that every week or just once. So far we're picking up in Danforth/Leslieville in the east end, Bloor West Village in the west end, and areas in between there," reads Davies' post on Facebook.

"The chili gets distributed by Seeds of Hope on Thursdays (with the help of my family and Patrick Fitzgerald it gets heated up at my house and ladled into single serving containers). Seeds of Hope is an anti-poverty organization, and for people experiencing homelessness, chili is a hot, hearty meal. It's cold outside and people can't even go into a coffee shop to warm up."

By this point they've rounded up enough chili cooks to continue doing this for a few weeks, and have already made their first contribution to the Seeds of Hope mobile kitchen of 70 servings of chili supplied by 29 contributors.

"Chili is a complete meal, vegetables, beans and meat, also vegan being made. It is also something that can be consumed by children, people with dental issues and seniors," Kimberly Curry, executive director of Seeds of Hope, told blogTO.

"I keep believing that if we have more people that can do small things to help one another we would not need to rely so much on larger institutions for this." 

Curry feels Davies and the others who have been helping her have really put their egos aside to do something small to make a big difference, and she's impressed by their organization and ability to integrate into Seeds to enhance what they do. She simply hopes the foundation can be a safe conduit to spread their generosity.

"Hope, it is about community impulse in a responsible and empathetic way for all. If this grows, great, we can work with the community fridges, the city pantry, other orgs. Gazpacho in the summer?" says Curry.

"The City Street Outreach bus shows up, and the assembled volunteers take their tables and set them up. Then the volunteer food contributors put their food out. All this happens as close to 6 p.m. as possible because there are usually a couple of hundred of homeless lined up for some of them. This is their only source of food for the week," says Davies.

"I heat it all up at home and ladle into individual containers and tape a spoon and napkin on each. Leftovers get taken to encampments."

Davies credits Meredith Low with helping to drive all logistics for the chili initiative, saying she could be viewed as the "retail" side of things where Low is more "wholesale."

"She makes the volume of chili happen logistically. I get it from SoH then heat up at my house and deliver to City Street Outreach distribution," says Davies.

Davies live tweeted her first experience with dropping off chili to feed those facing hunger and homelessness. The volunteers aren't just people like her, but others experiencing these issues as well.

"For me, I'm so damn privileged, and so many in Toronto aren't, and face cruel encampment evictions. For me, it's a duty and responsibility to help my neighbours, especially those currently experiencing homelessness," says Davies.

While this is a heroic act to pull off, if you want to get involved it doesn't have to be complicated: what Seeds of Hope needs most right now is cash donations, so you don't have to be a chili cookoff winner to help out.

Lead photo by

Rebecca Davies

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