JAGGER GORDON – CANADA
FEED IT FORWARD: Saturday August 12 (4:15pm-6:00pm)
By, Maria Girimonte
It’s not often in life that you meet someone whose mission it is to help others without an ulterior motive. I have met that person; actually, I’m dating that person. His name is Jagger Gordon. Jagger is an executive chef who I met late last year and who I watched turn his vision into reality in 7 short months. His passion drove him and continues to drive him to meet the demands of those less fortunate souls that go hungry every day.
Chef Jagger Gordon’s mission started in 2014 when he witnessed the copious amount of food going to waste after every catering gig. He knew there had to be a better solution and decided to open up a pop up kitchen in the Trinity Bellwood Park, on Queen Street West in Toronto to test his theory. Within 3 hours, Jagger served over 300 meals to the community for free with food that would have otherwise been destined for the landfill. His theory was recognized with this test and his need to continue to feed those less fortunate became his mission in life.
Feedfamilies.ca was born to drive awareness to this global issue, however Jagger’s focus was to change the laws in Canada first. Without hesitation and without prioritizing himself, he selflessly began feeditforward.ca in 2015 and began to build his small army of volunteers to help execute his vision. His entrepreneurial spirit took shape and he started at the ground floor by serving over 1200 people a hot meal during the Christmas of 2016 and then continued to offer hot and nutritious meals on the streets of Toronto, every Monday night at Nathan Phillip’s Square. This went on for months alongside his faithful volunteers until he realized that one night per week was simply not enough.
Jagger came upon a unique opportunity to capture one of the shipping containers outside the Scadding Court Community Centre. At first he was told there was a waiting list, but after hearing his story, a shipping container was fast tracked and the Soup Bar was born. On May 4, 2017 Chef Jagger Gordon realized his dream of putting his culinary skills to work for the greater good. I witnessed his hard work and dedication come to life without funding or assistance. He had a vision, cooking skills and the passion to hit the pavement to tell his story. Soon he captured the hearts of some restaurants and bakeries who continue to donate to his cause. Every day the Soup Bar receives 300 pounds of fresh bread that is given away for free. Every day Jagger reinvests every monetary donation that is received to buy luncheon meat to make sandwiches and healthy ingredients to make his hearty, exotic soups to entice the taste buds of his paying and non-paying customers.
The Soup Bar is located at 707 Dundas Street West and is the first of its kind pay-want-you can restaurant in Canada. Those who can donate, put money into a jar to pay for their own meal and/or to pay it forward for those who cannot afford to eat. For every $2.50 put into the money jar, a token is inserted into the second jar which can be used in lieu of money when a customer cannot pay for their meal. If there was any doubt there was a need, the first month in business certainly squashed it. With over 6,000 meals served in the first 30 days, the citizens of Toronto are certainly thanking Jagger for his efforts. I have witnessed Jagger speak to every person who walks past his small restaurant to tell his story as many times as it takes. He educates his customers about his mission and treats every one with respect whether they are donating money or eating for free. Most recently I watched him explain the ingredients in his soup to 2 young boys that could not have been older than 10 or 11. They couldn’t understand why this man was offering them free food and coconut water when they told him they were hungry but didn’t have any money. He spoke to them like they were adults and valued human beings. I’m sure they will remember their experience and hopefully pay it forward one day when they get older.
The press is also helping to tell Jagger’s story. CBC, City TV, NOW Magazine and the Toronto Star to name a few, have helped to get the word out to promote the fact that $31 billion worth of edible food goes to waste every year in Canada, while our citizens go hungry. These great institutions along with Jagger’s ongoing self-videos are appealing to the public to help donate their dollars and their time to volunteer to help keep the lights on and expand this concept to other areas of the city and across Canada. Jagger started a petition on his feeditforward.ca website to prompt the community to sign a petition. This petition is 43,000 signatures strong, but at least 100,000 signatures are required before Jagger can lobby the government to change the Canadian food laws by making it illegal to dispose of edible food. Italy and France have already led the way by changing their laws to ensure their citizens never go hungry.
Jagger’s mission is not only to feed people, but to ensure they are receiving nutritiously balanced meals. Hearty soups with healthy ingredients and organic bread and vegetables. The Soup Bar already receive daily organic bread donations but just last month, an incredible couple in Whitby Ontario donated 200 acres of their farm land to allow Feeditforward.ca to plant organic vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and even edible flowers to make sure Jagger’s artistic culinary abilities are displayed in every creation. Every Sunday a group of volunteers drive to Whitby to become one with the earth and give their time and effort to support Jagger’s cause and give back to their community. Everyone has their own story to share or know of someone they care about who has fallen on hard times and appreciates the kindness of strangers to help feed them and their families.
Food plays a vital role in our daily lives. From the very young to the very old, no one is immune to the need to eat and eat healthy. Jagger’s next mission is to partner with the Toronto General Hospital, The University of Toronto and the Institute for Global Health Equity and Innovation to create a subsidized meal plan to help students who are skipping meals because they cannot afford to pay for food with all their other school expenses. This project is scheduled to begin in September of 2017 with more details to follow.
Jagger opened my eyes to the importance of giving back and taking care of those less fortunate who need our help. One person can make a difference, but it takes a village to take care of our communities and to make sure no person goes hungry when there is so much food available to feed everyone.
The Soup Bar by Feeditforward is a not-for-profit that needs donations to continue to grow and feed more families in need. Donations can be made at feeditforward.ca where you can also sign the petition.
Chef Jagger Gordon can be reached by email at email@example.com