Local chef Todd Perrin supports Community Food Centres Canada Restaurants for Change
On October 18, 2017, 92 restaurants in 19 cities across Canada will participate in the fourth annual Restaurants for Change initiative. Proceeds from the dinner service at the designated restaurants – including Mallard Cottage in St. John’s – will support community food programs in low-income communities across the country.
Chef Todd Perrin of Mallard Cottage has been involved with the initiative since it was established in 2014. Since that time, Restaurants for Change has raised $600,000 for Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) and its partner organizations. CFCC is a national non-profit group that builds and supports food-focused organizations in low-income areas. While Restaurants for Change has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause in just a few years, the initiative is about much more than supporting community food programs.
It’s about restaurant owners, chefs and dinner guests and the broader public working to create awareness about the fact that, while we live in a wealthy country, an estimated four million Canadians can’t afford to eat healthy.
Perrin is also speaking out to help create awareness about the importance of a healthy and fair food system.
In a society where sugar-filled pop is often cheaper to buy than milk, millions of Canadians can’t afford to eat healthy.
Food insecurity has a negative effect on people’s physical health as well as their mental health, Perrin said.
While food banks are crucial, he added, eating healthy food surrounded by people you love and feel comfortable with is also important.
“Food is a right for people, it’s not a privilege… Enjoying a meal is all about socializing… about eating a good meal in a supportive environment… People should be able to enjoy healthy, quality food in various ways,” Perrin said.
Perrin refers to “industrial agriculture” and “modern food systems” as the most prevalent means of food delivery in this province. When asked about the concept of “farm to table” Perrin said giving people an opportunity to grow their own food or buy locally grown products at a reasonable price is important.
Backward for Forward
“The whole idea around supporting local food and local availability is a massive issue in Newfoundland and Labrador… we produce about ten percent of all the food we consume. So, we are heavily reliant on the transportation system in other places to provide us with food.”
Perrin supports an environment where locally-grown food is more accessible for everyone. “And that feeds into people who are on the margins of society, people who are challenged economically and socially… local food can be very economical and if it’s done right, it’s the best option.”
Newfoundland has to go backwards in order to go forward, he said. “Modern food systems have taken local food off our plates. It’s not because it’s not good or not feasible. It’s just because of the way the world economy has moved,” he said.
“We have to take control of our food system in this province and realize and recognize that we are on an island in the middle of the Atlantic… So, we have to do things to support our food system here that helps everybody at all levels of society,” he added. Perrin encourages people to make a reservation at Mallard Cottage for Oct. 18. “We want to support Community Food Centres Canada Restaurants for Change. We are working towards hopefully seeing some of the impacts that group has made across Canada start to have an impact in Newfoundland and Labrador. We want to be part of the change in this province,” he said.
For more information on Restaurants for Change visit www.restaurantsforchange.ca.