York University student helps Toronto community food centre respond to COVID-19 pandemic

YFile Featured image shows a FOOD Bank

Using his passion for cooking and helping others, Christopher Moure, a York University student in the Department of Politics, is making a positive impact in the lives of Torontonians in need as the city grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

For over three years, Moure has been an active volunteer at The Stop Community Food Centre, one of Canada’s first food banks supplying healthy food to communities in Toronto’s West End. Moure – who was working as a full-time cook for several restaurants throughout Toronto and Australia prior to volunteering – was inspired by his love for all things food to volunteer with The Stop.

“I was inspired to work for The Stop as they are an organization centered around food and community,” says Moure.

Last summer, Moure extended his impact at the organization with an internship offered through the LA&PS Internship Awards Program. During the internship, Moure worked in two of The Stop’s internal programs: The Healthy Beginnings Program that supports pre- and post-natal nutrition for people who are pregnant; and the Good Food Market which offers affordable, fresh produce on sale for the food bank, where he held administrative responsibilities.

With the COVID-19 pandemic on the rise, Moure’s responsibilities increased, allowing him to strengthen his skills and acquire new ones.

“I had no previous experience in an administrative setting. It was an unfamiliar environment, conducting research and providing email correspondence,” Moure says. “We had to figure out how to provide the same quality of service, while adhering to the health protocols.”

The Stop had to transform their working environment drastically in response to the pandemic, which required transitioning operations to the outdoors, even throughout inclement weather and a rising pandemic.

“No program was untouched by the pandemic,” says Moure.

The Stop had to prepare emergency food hampers, which resulted in food choice restrictions for the participants. The pandemic has pushed the organization to prioritize differently, focusing more on reducing wait times so that participants are not standing in the cold for long.

The internship gave Moure the freedom to curate a role tailored to his interests and conduct independent research, which culminated in writing a short publication for The Stop’s blog.

“Don’t be afraid to ask, and work with the organization to curate a role that you feel comfortable in,” he advises future student interns.

Moure’s experience made him appreciate the impacts of volunteering and being a part of an organization that contributes to others’ well-being. While giving back to the community, Moure says he has received a valuable experience in return.

“Never underestimate the impact it will have on you. It was such a positive experience working in a dynamic environment.”