Leading the way to accessible food

How the second "Restaurants for Change" event plans to get its message of food security in front of more people.


Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC) is hoping a new PSA, more media partners and an expanded social media presence will get Canadians to take notice of the issue of food security and attend a fundraising event.

More than 50 restaurants in 13 cities across Canada will donate the proceeds from dinner service on Oct. 21 to the organization as part of  the “Restaurants for Change” event. The CFCC provides emergency healthy food access for Canadians, and its centres also provide education on how to prepare healthy meals and connects people with other sources of food (such as local markets or growers).

The event is being promoted with a new PSA by Dot Dot Dash (an “agency for good”), which shows a few of the participating chefs talking about why food centres and access to food is important. The idea is to not only explain why the event exists, but highlights the role of chefs in leading change.

“We know chefs are already leaders in the kitchen and are often very involved in their communities, so they can also be ambassadors for food security or connecting the dots between local farmers and nearby low income communities,” says Christina Palassio, director of communications for CFCC. “We’ve worked with chefs for many years, and we wanted to feature them as a way to thank them but also put them in the foreground as potential change-makers.”

This is the second year for the “Restaurants for Change” event, which raised more than $120,000 last year. Palassio says the PSA was developed in response to feedback from chefs who participated in last year’s event and said the organization needed to focus more on pre-event promotion, so the PSA is something they can share with both staff and customers to get them involved.

The campaign also includes posters and print ads, and the organization is joined by new media partners including Toronto Life, National Post, Global News and returning partner The Food Network. In addition, the CFCC launched a new, easier-to-navigate website (also created by Dot Dot Dash), expanded its social media presence by regularly spotlighting participating chefs and restaurants across platforms and created more front-of-house, in-restaurant materials to connect the event back to the organization and the work it does. Social is being handled by Siren Group, which is also handling PR.

The participating restaurants are of all sizes and located across the country, which Palassio says means the target for the event is a broad one.

“The overarching characteristic would be that they are people who care about food, as well as where their food comes from,” she says. “Last year, the people who came out ranged from older, devoted regular customers to younger people who needed an excuse to go out for a higher-end meal on a Wednesday because it’s an important cause. We’re hoping some of the promotion and in-restaurant materials will make it an important cause for everyone.”