Coffin an advocate for food security

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By Lia Renaud

Editor's note: This is the second column in a six-part series exploring the lives of people having a positive impact on Colchester County.

Trinkie Coffin is pushing for changes in the system that allows individuals to have the resources required to make food choices for themselves and their families.

Seventeen years ago, Trinkie Coffin and her partner Garth choose Colchester County as their new home. Since then, Trinkie has been actively involved in the community as a volunteer, advocate and role model.

Born in Quebec, Trinkie graduated from Macdonald College of McGill University with a bachelor of science in home economics. She spent her working years teaching home economics in Quebec, as well as adult education, after school day care and instructing young adults (18+) with intellectual difficulties.

While President of the Canadian Home Economics Association, she travelled to Ghana to the International Meeting of Home Economics and presented a paper called "Stirring the Pot" about collective kitchens.

Trinkie also worked in Pakistan for short periods (three weeks each) on school enrichment programs to keep girls in school in a Basti (slum) outside Lahore.

Her commitment to creating safer, healthier, more inclusive communities in Colchester County is admirable. In the past, she has volunteered on local boards of Transition House and Colchester Community Workshops (six years each); was part of a Cooperative Inclusion Program that used client-centered choices for living and support in the community; member and then chairwoman of the Colchester Anti-Poverty Network; member of United Church Women; member of St. Andrew's United Church Outreach and Global concerns committee that initiated the community dinners, later shared with many other churches in the community; member of St. Andrew's Open Hearts and Minds Committee, which led to the Affirming covenant for LBGT community.

Admittedly, the list is not comprehensive, as Trinkie has truly led a very active life within our community. She is also recognized as a gracious host and for her fabulous food; most of Trinkie's community initiatives involve food. In fact, it was her passion for teaching and love of food that inspired her to start a collective kitchen in Colchester County.

"Once a month four to six people come together to do cooking for 12 to 15 people. A collective kitchen encourages the development of food skills, but not considered a cooking class. It is a way to get together, socialize, use low-cost food and help each other in many ways." says Trinkie.

The group started with five young members and over the years, 20 to 25 members have participated in the programming, benefiting 15-20 children. The monthly cost per individual is 5$ and participants take home five meals.

"Participants contribute values, content and information needed to perform monthly meetings. We cook for three hours, meeting at a local church that is well equipped; the only cost of ingredients is needed. The model can be used anywhere," says Trinkie.

Members can remain up to four years in the program, but are encouraged to start their own kitchen. Trinkie credits Brenda Leenders for the success of the Food Mentors program and local family resource centre Maggie's Place for initiating further collective kitchens.

"It has been the same group for about three years - hardly anyone misses. We enjoy each other's company," says Trinkie.

The UN definition of food security is enough food for every single person that is nutritious, personally acceptable and culturally sensitive that is delivered in a way that is not through a food bank, normal distribution method.

"The Nova Scotia Participatory Food Costing Project, operating since 2002, brought to us the cost of a basic nutritious diet in Nova Scotia. In Colchester East Hants, it was found that the cost of a basic nutritious diet for a family of four for a month is $843.22," says Trinkie.

It is statistics like these which move Trinkie to advocate for changes in the system that allows individuals to have the resources required to make choices for themselves and their families.

"No issue is isolated from many others in that food security would be more likely to be assured if reasonable income, affordable housing, adequate daycare and easily accessible transportation could all be added to the mix," says Trinkie.

For more information on The Nova Scotia Participatory Costing Project visit www.foodarc.ca.

Lia Renaud is a recent graduate of Western University in London, Ont., and is happy to be now living in Colchester County.

 

Organizations: Macdonald College of McGill University, Canadian Home Economics Association, Transition House Colchester Community Workshops United Church Women United Church Outreach Open Hearts and Minds Committee Food Mentors UN Western University

Geographic location: Colchester County, Quebec, Ghana Pakistan Lahore Nova Scotia Colchester East Hants London, Ont.

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