Kitestring's 10 Hearts - 10 Years - 10 Months - 10 Hearts

Celebrating Kitestring’s 10th Anniversary

When we embraced the idea of the 10 Hearts idea in celebration of Kitestring’s 10 years, we were excited about how each Kitestringer would approach the challenge.

We always like to know the ‘whys’ of things, digging into what motivates decisions. Human nature is our best teacher. Part psychology/part Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys, we love learning more about…everything. We thought you might, too. Here goes.

Katie Stiel

Name, role and tenure at Kitestring.

Katie Stiel, Account Manager, two years and nine months.

Give a brief overview of the project/initiative you chose.

Today, one in eight households in Canada are food insecure. This means that more than four million Canadians, which includes more than 1.15 million children, live in households where it is a struggle to put food on the table – which is a heartbreaking fact that comes with a variety of other social challenges. Understanding that food banks are not the answer, Neighbour 2 Neighbour, in partnership with Community Food Centres Canada, has opened an amazing new resource for our city: The Hamilton Community Food Centre.

What is a Community Food Centre? If you think about it like a hospital, a food bank is like the emergency room – a place where you would go for a quick fix. But what about if you were facing a more chronic challenge? Where would you go? The Food Centre is designed to be that resource. Through the use of their space and a variety of drop-in and registration programs, their goal is to provide better access to healthy food, increase food skills and knowledge, and facilitate community connection.

This empowering resource is open to all within Hamilton and people need to know about it. Thus, my 10 Hearts initiative focused on creating a series of short social media videos to help spread the word.

Why did you choose your project?

Food has always been a big part of my life. I love to cook, try new recipes, and savor local dishes when I travel. It’s also been a big part of my family’s life – especially on my Dad’s side as he comes from a long line of food-loving kitchen masters.

Growing up I was fortunate enough to never have to think about where my next meal was coming from or if it would be enough. This was a luxury I never realized I had until I entered my adult years and saw it firsthand through working with the Good Food Box, Meal Exchange, and teaching cooking demonstrations at the Downtown Farmer’s Market. I couldn’t imagine either being a child and going hungry (because I get hangry reeeal fast… ask my husband), or being a parent and having to stress about feeding my family.

Neighbour 2 Neighbour is an inspiring local organization that has been working to address poverty and food insecurity within the city for decades, and the CFC is a needed addition.

What would people be surprised to learn about your initiative?

The CFC is open to everyone across the city, regardless of age, income, or area of residence. The facility is beautiful on the inside and its food is delicious. On my last visit (which was at breakfast time), I was offered a nutrient-packed green smoothie with local produce and a freshly baked gluten-free muffin. YUM!

What did you learn by having this be your part of the 10 Hearts Celebration?

While I knew several programs were happening within the Centre, I had no idea to the extent until I saw the programming calendar. There is so much going on!

What have you learned most about your community in the 10 years Kitestring has been open?

We’re so much more than our stereotypes. We are a city that is full of potential and I’m happy to call it home.

What have you learned about yourself while being part of Kitestring?

I’ve realized just how much I value a solid and supportive workplace culture – where everyone not only cares about each other, but is willing to have a good time in the process. Not a day goes by where I don’t have a good belly laugh, and I love that.

Final thoughts?

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” - J. R. R. Tolkien