Activist community

Roots Community Food Center wins Jack Layton Activism Award

THUNDER BAY —Thunder Bay’s Roots Community Food Center has won the Jack Layton Activism Award.

The award was announced this week by the Institute for Change Leaders and the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation.

Roots CFC general manager Erin Beagle accepted it on Zoom, streamed live ahead of an in-person celebration in Toronto marking the 11th anniversary of the former NDP national leader’s passing.

His widow, Olivia Chow, said the judges selected an incredible winner at the Roots Community Food Centre.

“They’re making a huge difference by addressing the roots of food insecurity, and I know they would have made Jack proud,” Chow said.

She founded the Institute for Change Leaders in 2016 to teach organizers the skills to win social change.

On its website, the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation states that its mission is to promote the principles of social democracy.

In announcing the award, both organizations cited Roots CFC’s focus on building a sustainable organization of activists, with solid plans for future development and strong leadership.

“Roots CFC uses food as a tool to connect people to each other and build belonging and dignity,” they said.

They highlighted the Thunder Bay organization’s innovative and diverse programs, including education, employment and access to fresh food, fruits and vegetables at reduced prices.

Roots CFC has also been praised for its advocacy work, such as the Dignified Food Access campaign which has brought together organizations and individuals to tackle the root causes of food insecurity.