5n2 kitchens

Toronto food insecurity program that got kicked out of space finds new home

A Toronto food insecurity program that was kicked out of their space when their lease was terminated has happily found a new spot to call home.

For once, a story of a lease termination has a happy ending.

5n2 Kitchens has been serving thousands of free meals a week from several locations across the city, but had to move out of their central space at the end of the year. Still, they never took a break from serving meals.

City councillor Paul Ainslie and his staff have been helping 5n2 find a new space since executive director Seema David reached out to him after receiving a lease notice in November 2020.

"If we were forced to shut down the city could not fill the void it would leave in the expanded food services we were providing," David tells blogTO, especially since the beginning of lockdowns.

As a result, 5n2 was an agenda item for City Council several times last year, with multiple virtual meetings with city staff.

"This led to the consideration of space at the city and TDSB co-owned property at 705 Progress," says David.

The space was actually previously a Scarborough dance studio, so two units moved to a community space tenancy portfolio specifically for 5n2.

"City staff reached out in January this year," says David. "After some more work, we finally signed a lease and got the keys to these units on April 1."

"The new space is 4,026 square feet and a bare canvas so we will need to build out the kitchen and workspace," Christine Ganeshan of 5n2 tells blogTO. "We will need to find furniture, cabinets, security systems, etc."

They're hoping to get donations and corporate sponsors to help with the cost of relocating and rebuilding. In the meantime, they're still preparing and distributing free food from temporary locations.

"My dentist's husband had just leased a 9,000-square-foot warehouse at 921 Progress and very kindly allowed us to move our one unit set to his space mid-December," says David. "We are currently using this space as our office and storage set up."

While 5n2 may have won the battle to secure a new space, the war to continue their important work is far from over. 

"We are very excited to begin building at the new location and look forward to continuing to support our more marginalized communities with food supports even as we head into a recovery phase," says David.

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