Our Mission

A multi-stakeholder co-op that empowers communities with diverse diets by providing holistic and equitable food and health options, education, and meaningful employment.

Our Vision

To create diverse and connected communities that recognize, practice, and advocate equitable and sustainable food and health systems.

Our Story

The Coop began with Helen Poon who has been working for decades in the not-for-profit sector, promoting wellness and education to diverse communities.  Her drive brought forward numerous friends that wanted to share her passion. Gradually, a group formed, gathering like-minded professionals that initially wanted to contribute to the betterment of our communities, advocating a form of social justice that improved access to health and food choices.

Collectively, all of us wanted to affect positive change.  We wanted ideas of food, health, wellness, equity, equality, diversity, inclusivity, community, and so much more, but were unclear about the direction, unsure what exactly to plant or even where to plant our thoughts. 

Eventually, Sally Miller was hired as a consultant to provide the grounding or soil for our ideas, helping us conceptualize our thoughts into something tangible. The early stage of understanding ourselves from our mission and vision was our seed.  Then, a steering committee was established to help water and nurture our first board. The first round of bond investment is on-going, providing continuous sunlight to feed our seedling. And quickly, signs of life broke the surface, and Sprouts was born.

Our holistic approach is what makes Sprouts unique; the Coop aims to offer much more than just healthy, sustainable food, but also educational health and wellness workshops that build the capacity of individuals and their families, while providing meaningful employment to the community.  We understand that the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health of someone are all intertwined; individuals,

caregivers, families, community leaders, and stakeholders need to work together to encourage health and wellness.

Although Sprouts is just starting, with nurture and care, we know Sprouts will grow and blossom into a resilient and vibrant hub that enables community members to access healthy food, education, health services, and employment designed to empower everyone to contribute to a stronger community for all.

Why We Take Care Of Your Food And Health Together?

Sprouts is the first co-operative that integrates food with health in its services and products because we believe in “We Are What We Eat” – what we eat directly impacts on our health.

There are 4 types of Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) which are the top causes of death worldwide: cardiovascular diseases (responsible for 48% of these deaths), cancers (21%), chronic respiratory diseases (12%), and diabetes (3%). NCDs are largely preventable by tackling 4 risk factors: tobacco, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol.

According to World Health Organization:

  • 36 millions people die annually from NCDs.
  • 63% of all global deaths are due to NCDs (WHO, 2011).
  • 18% of children and adolescents aged 5-19 are overweight and obese in 2016 compared to 4% in 1975 (WHO, 2017).

Sprouts is dedicated to advocate for improving accessibility to holistic and diverse health options and food security at both the personal and the community levels.

Meet Your Board of Directors

At Sprouts, we have an elected Board of Directors who make major decisions on behalf of the co-op’s members. Our Board is comprised of up to 9 members from each of the different stakeholder member groups to ensure diverse representation in the decision-making process.

Helen Poon
Helen PoonFounder and Manager (Consumer Member)
Helen Poon is a strong advocate for healthy food, ecological sustainability, consumer education and alternative therapies. Helen received her Doctor of Education degree from Ontario of Studies in Education at University of Toronto in 2004. After moving to Canada, Helen became the Executive Director of a human rights organization, a heart health promoter, and a manager for mental health recovery programs. Her rigorous efforts in mobilizing the East Asian communities brought her to work with over thirty community organizations in the Chinese community and national health charities, establishing the Ontario Chinese Health Coalition and the Chinese Caregiver Network. Setting up a food and health cooperative represents the summation of Helen’s previous efforts in promoting equitable land, food, and health systems. In 2017, Helen was recognized as one of 15 Canadian Women in Ontario who provided leadership in arts, civic engagement, culture, education, and community building. One of Helen’s fondest memories is all her trips on Bruce’s trail, national parks, and travelling to different countries.

Dave Tran
Dave TranChair (Consumer Member)
Dave Tran holds a Bachelor of Education, working in Toronto and overseas for several years in promoting community building, global citizenship, and wellness. In addition to his education background, his knowledge in communications in the not-for-profit field lends strength to crafting central messages and educational material to consumers, health providers, funders, donors, and community members. One of his fondest memories is an on-going one; when his past students now share their continual success stories with him as emerging leaders within their own communities, focusing on giving back to their communities, he feels proud of them all.
Shan Qiao
Shan QiaoTreasurer (Worker Member)
Shan Qiao is a professional photographer in public relations and editorial communications sectors. She has a keen eye for healthy eating and healthy choices. She holds a Bachelor Degree in English Literature and a minor in Digital Photography; she has been volunteering for health advocacy related organizations such as Heart & Stroke Foundation and SickKids Foundation for the past several years. Shan is particularly interested in healthy recipe development and vegetarian foods. She joined Sprouts as one of its founding members and is elected as the Board Treasurer. Shan is a proud mother to a 6-year-old son and a shelter cat named Furry Berry.

Rui Ping Chen
Rui Ping ChenSecretary (Health Practitioner Member)
Rui Ping Chen is a social worker that has a passion for social justice, equitable employment, food equity, and backyard/home farming. Her involvement with this co-op started when she spoke to Helen Poon, Sprout’s Founder and Manager, sharing their dreams about building more connected neighborhoods that recognized, accepted, and promoted food, health, and community. As an immigrant who came to Canada not knowing the people around her, let alone the current gaps in healthy eating in her own neighborhood, she quickly began to appreciate her father’s efforts to grow a sustainable backyard garden. Her family’s belief and practice of local love by tending to their garden, growing winter melons as big as Ping’s one-year-old nephew, is a highlight for her in trying to help other communities grow.
May Wong
May WongDirector (Community Partner Member)
May graduated from McGill University with her Bachelor degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. Her devotion in volunteering never fade since her early school years back in Hong Kong. After settling in Toronto since 1980s, she naturally has developed into being volunteers coordinator, operations manager, project manager in many community initiatives, fundraising events and even international conference, even she prefers to stay low profile for many years. She has passion for seniors whom she feels are vulnerable, most neglected, not being respected or heard. The daily involvement with seniors with chronic pain and illness alerted May to be more concerned of food health. When Helen Poon informed May at Villa Elegance of her determination to start a food and health co-op, May expressed her enthusiasm to learn more and be part of it. May believes that education on healthy food consumption and finding affordable healthy food will benefit everyone. In 2016, May was nominated and recognized in Ontario as Leading Women Building Communities.
Elisabeth Langford
Elisabeth LangfordBoard Member (Consumer Member)
Elisabeth has studied Kinesiology, Nutrition & Food Management, and Health Promotion. She is certified as a Mind-Body Nutrition Coach and is passionate about educating others in healthy eating and wellness practices. Elisabeth was excited to join Sprouts to learn more about sustainable food systems and to reach a diverse community. In her spare time, you will find her practicing yoga, making travel plans or enjoying a matcha latte.

Think Globally.  Act Locally.