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Growing a Healthy Community

Working with local community partners to address food insecurity

Everdale’s mission centres around improving community health through giving people access to fresh food. The not-for-profit organization was established in 2000 to address food insecurity, which occurs when an individual or family does not have the financial resources needed to afford enough healthy food.

Gavin Dandy, Executive Director & Founder at Everdale, comments, “We know that there’s a huge challenge for many individuals to access fresh fruits and vegetables, but it’s something that is critical to one’s health. Without enough healthy food, you are more prone to health issues such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and mental health issues.”

Gavin wanted Everdale to be able to create solutions to these issues based on providing training and knowledge to the community, allowing them to create sustainable solutions to these problems. In order to do this, it was clear that Everdale needed to create meaningful partnerships that could be used to propel their growth.

Gavin has reached out to the Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures office more than once. When Everdale was only a couple years into business, they needed a loan to support an infrastructure expansion. 15 years later, Gavin was reminded about the Community Futures office from one of his corporate partners and reached out again. This time, Gavin was able to utilize both the financial support of Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures as well as their business advice. “Community Futures gave us a lot of advice, helped us to refine our ideas, and even suggested ideas for new revenue streams. They were instrumental in helping us to refine and build our business case, which we still use regularly,” says Gavin.

The loan from Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures allowed Everdale to strengthen their partnership with The Seed, a project in the Guelph Community Health Centre that, like Everdale, aims to provide community members with access to affordable fresh food. With the investment from Community Futures, Everdale was able to start The Good Food Project, a joint project with The Seed. The Good Food Project grows fresh food on two acres of dedicated land at Everdale’s farm. This food is then given to programs at The Seed which are geared towards increasing food security and making healthy food more accessible and affordable.

Working with The Good Food Project affords Everdale the opportunity to work with unemployed youth in the community, giving them experience, training, and leadership skills that will allow them to thrive. “It’s very rewarding to be a part of a program like this and to see so many young community members become leaders in the community and create a healthier lifestyle for not only themselves, but for the community as a whole,” Gavin says.

One of biggest challenges for Gavin was securing financing and ensuring the business had a sustainable source of revenue to allow it to continue operations. “In the not-for-profit sector, there’s so many important projects that are not able to get completed due to a lack of funding. Some initiatives won’t be taken on by big corporate players because they can’t make a lot of money doing it, so it’s up to not-for-profit organizations like Everdale to step in and make a difference. The investment from Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures allowed us to create one of those crucial initiatives that will have a lasting impact on the community.”

Source: Western Ontario Community Futures Development Corporation Association

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