Meeting our Client's Needs

Last year Cota led focus groups with over 70 clients. The focus groups revealed that clients were looking for improved access to food and nutrition, making food security a top priority in our Strategic Plan (2016-2021).

Cota brainstormed creative ways to help meet this need and one of our solutions was to fundraise. Since 2015, we raised $24,000 through our participation in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge and a one-time private donation.

Thanks to the support and generosity of our fundraising team and donors, we were able to pilot a breakfast program and provided more than 10,000 meals at our Scarborough Short-Term Residential Beds (STRB). We are also planning on adding a lunch to the program in the winter of 2017.

Short-Term Residential Beds Program (STRB)

Cota’s STRB program is one program within a coordinated network of Safe Beds across Toronto. Our STRB is located in Scarborough and provides short-term accommodation and support to adults living with serious mental illness who are experiencing situational crisis resulting in homelessness. The program offers support in the areas of short-term accommodation, personal/situation stabilization, the development of a longer-term housing plan, service navigation and referrals (e.g. case management, primary care, housing, etc.).

The program is intended to meet the basic needs of those in crisis by offering a safe place to reside for up to 30 days, 24/7 support, and access to basic necessities such as toiletries, clothing and food. Since its inception the program had only been able to offer one meal per day (dinner) and access to snacks. In 2016 we were able to offer breakfast to individuals!

Breakfast Time!

Manager Gabriela Yepez and her team at STRBs program began researching menu ideas, asking tenants what they would prefer in the morning and when, and consulted Luke, our resident Bailey House cook, about nutritious options. Clients are able to pick up breakfast from 7AM to 12PM. The menu changes each day, always offering a starch, dairy, and fruit combo for each meal. Since implementing the program, clients have been thoroughly satisfied that we are meeting their needs:

Hard Boiled Egg

What the residents at Safe Beds have to say:

It’s important for me to have breakfast available in the morning for medical reasons. I have to take my medication with food. Getting milk in the morning is always good.

– *Daniel, Former Safe Beds Resident

Most of us don’t expect a three course meal, but the breakfast we receive is nutritious, and it’s very helpful to have it available and accessible.

– *Divya, Former Safe Beds Resident

*This is not the client's name; but they have agreed to share their story and wish to remain anonymous


*This is not the client's name; but they have agreed to share their story and wish to remain anonymous

What Happens Now?

Our goal for the 2017 Scotiabank Charity Challenge is to raise $20,000, which will help us to continue these meal programs and add up to five light meals per week at our Acquired Brain Injury Adult Day Service using amounts raised over $15,000. The Adult Day Service offers supportive and creative group environments for adults living with Acquired Brain Injury to:

  • Engage in meaningful activities
  • Explore strengths  
  • Develop new/diverse skills