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A woman's collective specializing in delicious traditional foods

 


 

 

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Brief History of Afghan Women's Catering Group

 
The Afghan Women's Catering Group was created in 1997. The primary purpose of this Community Economic Development (CED) project was to alleviate the economic and social hardship experienced by Afghan women and their families living in the Greater Toronto Area, particularly as a result of the cutbacks to social assistance and services. With a small grant from the Toronto Food Policy Council and an in-kind donation of commercial kitchen space at Trinity St. Paul's Center, the women embarked on the first phase of the catering group's development. The participants attended various training workshops on food handling, safety and skills, and small business development. The group was facilitated by a volunteer and guided by a coordinating committee comprised of the participants, as well as volunteers and staff of the Afghan Women's Organization.
 

 

ECONOMIC & SOCIAL GOALS

 

The Afghan Women's Organization defines community economic development as both social and economic development. Therefore the goals and principals of the group are as follows:

  • To ensure a democratic workplace in which relationships, group process and participant empowerment and self-esteem are fostered.
  • To maintain the group's collective decision-making and organizational structure.
  • To share skills, knowledge and resources with more vulnerable members of the community through training and social support.
  • To foundries for community, social justice, and charitable causes.
  • To supplement income with part-time work and strive to earn a fair living wage.
 

More information

 

The Afghan Women's Catering Group currently employs 10 women and a volunteer coordinator. Several members of the group have taken on specific roles, which are essential to the group as well as to learn new skills, which can be considered transferable in the future.

Upon receiving an order, the coordinator of the group assigns the order to one or more members, depending on the size, in an alternating fashion. When orders are large enough, all members of the group come together and equally contribute.

The Afghan Women's Catering Group relies solely on word-of-mouth marketing and nonprofit organizations in the GTA comprise a large majority of their customer base. With hopes of eventually catering to the general public.

Since the beginning, the group's major obstacle has been to secure kitchen space. However, as of last year, the group has had the fortunate opportunity to become a regular tenant of Field-to-Table's kitchen incubator program and has been able to use their kitchen facility as needed. As well, we have had the ongoing support of the Field-to-Table staff and hope to continue to call this facility home for a long time.

The group realizes the importance of networking and has become an active member of the CED Learning Network's Food Sector Working Group. This is an excellent forum for shared learning, resources and skills between CED projects in the city of Toronto as well as the opportunity to partner with other CED groups on various catering orders.

We are also extremely excited about the launch of the CED Learning Network catalog, which will increase our exposure exponentially.

During this time, I have realized that not only do the members of the group continue to participate because of the extra earnings and social aspect that the group provides, but because they truly love to share their traditional cuisine with the people of Toronto. They are proud of their culture and cuisine and feel good when others have a chance to enjoy the delicious flavours of their homeland of Afghanistan.

 

 

 

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