It's been a year in office for Mayor Tory and City Council, over a year since the Mayor and much of Council endorsed the Food Nation platform. A quarter through their term, has action been taken to reach these goals?
The Food Nation platform (find below) has also been endorsed by thousands of Torontonians in communities throughout the City.
So where have we seen significant action on these commitments that align with our platform recommendations?
Council with political leadership from Mayor Tory and Deputy Mayor McConnell has approved a robust Poverty Reduction Strategy that includes food. The Mayor championed housing funding during the federal election, and the Strategy asks for provincial and federal co-operation on poverty reduction including income, along with much more that can be done by the City itself with partners. This was all led by significant community action.
The City is undertaking a number of initiatives, including launching FoodStarter, a food incubator for food producers. Economic Development is also launching a new incubator grant fund to community groups supporting job creation. Poverty reduction plan has several important objectives on employment and entrepreneurship - these include removing barriers, and supporting the creation of livable incomes for better employment! On Toronto as a food destination, the City is participating in the Culinary Tourism Trail Working Group which could do a lot to promote our small food producers.
5) Local Action
The Food By Ward initiative has launched, bringing together people across the city building great information in their wards, which will be used to connect residents with councillors in the new year and identify opportunities for important work.
Significant in all of this is an important change of tone from the previous administration at City Hall with a willingness to press for some action that builds the City up and supports health and those who are vulnerable. A number of other food initiatives are also being supported by the City. However, overall trends are fairly troubling.
Councillors need to act significantly to support their residents with action in their neighbourhoods - to put forth effort and funds that supports local work and yields results.
In many ways, the City is not on board with important food projects. Community members, organizations and businesses need stronger co-operation and fewer roadblocks from all City divisions to create community solutions. The City is still often the biggest roadblock.
With Significant work having been done on a number of fronts, the groundwork laid, 2016 will be the time for the City to act on programs, initiatives, and provide a strong budgetary contribution for food justice and poverty reduction. This will help to create those jobs, projects, food access and higher incomes that Toronto needs to become more livable for many, and ensure strong results by 2018.
Food Nation Platform
1) Create opportunities to grow, cook, sell and buy fresh, healthy food in all neighbourhoods and in every major new housing development and neighbourhood plan.
City Council and staff should, as per the City's Official Plan, work with developers, communities and businesses to build urban agriculture, commerical kitchens, food stores, farmer's markets and communtiy food hubs into new housing, using City infrastructure and new policy, neighbourhood planning, and Section 37 funding on communtiy food priorities.
2) Reduce the number of Torontonians below the poverty line by the 2018 election by 40% or more by championing income inequality.
Toronto’s Mayor and Council should champion income inequality by implementing a robust and ambitious anti-poverty plan, and by showing leadership to provincial and federal government to create income levels that allow people to afford the basics like healthy food - through tools such as increased social assistance rates, child benefits, or guaranteed annual income.
3) Create good food jobs for youth and marginalized communities.
Create a new Food Jobs Office (like the City’s Film Office) for our biggest employer. Task it with increasing good jobs by reducing barriers to employment and entrepreneurship, supporting and creating infrastructure like food business incubators, make local investments, and ensure Toronto’s neighbourhoods are food destinations. Work with and learn from cities and ambitious food organizers in places like Austin, New York, Vancouver and Chicago to create innovative opportunities here.
4) Increase the availability of fresh, healthy food in community food assistance programs.
Improve health and dignity for Torontonians through support and funding to substantially increase the amount of healthy food distributed to those who need it. Create a sustainable fund for fresh food and the infrastructure to prepare it.
5) Work with constituents to create a better City through food in their neighbourhoods - Food Nation members bring your local concerns and solutions to your candidates!
Decide top priorities with residents and work with local stakeholders to implement food justice initiatives that create jobs and healthy food solutions.
Calling all Food Champions!
The people who support them are even more amazing and dynamic. They have on-the-ground experience using food to solve city problems.
Are you committed to working toward strengthening local food systems in your community? Do you wish you had more resources, capacity and access to dynamic networks to advance your community food work?
If you have on-the-ground experience using food to solve city problems, we want your insight into the food priorities in your neighbourhood.
The TFPC is launching Food by Ward: Food Assets and Opportunities in Toronto. This resource lists and maps community food initiatives across the city so that councillors, communities, organizations and individuals can see and support the great work happening around the City more easily—but we need your help.
If you are a food leader in your community and want to help identify and promote food priorities in your ward and across the city, become a food champion!
As a food champion you will:
- Become connected to a dynamic network of food leaders across the City
- Participate in workshops aimed at sharing resources and strengthening the capacity of food champions
- Review the food by ward document to make sure the data we have compiled is accurate
- Be our contact/liaison person in your ward (we are looking for both organizations, networks and individuals to be food champions)
- Have your name listed on the TFPC website as a food champion
- Attend an event at City Hall to launch Food by Ward
- Follow up with your City Councillor to seize food opportunities identified
- Write a blog about food initiatives in your ward
Food Forward is excited to support a fabulous food event being organized to support bringing two Syrian refugee families to Toronto (ward 21).
Supper With Syria will be all about learning about a culture and increasing understanding, while sharing good food and stories. Canadian and Syrian chefs will work in pairs to prepare dinner, along with music and more.
Please support and join us by purchasing tickets and encouraging your friends and colleagues to come too.
You may also donate, or join our Food Justice Committee in volunteering at the event, at Wychwood Barns. See you then!
Hello Food Forward Friends,
We hope you’re enjoying the final weeks of summer and the bounty of seasonal produce that is flooding the Farmer’s Markets throughout this vibrant city.
We're getting in touch to let you know about upcoming Food Forward milestones and to share with you some of the latest news items that are worth celebrating!
- The Food Forward Community has been working incredibly hard making this city a better place through food for the past 5 years. Happy Birthday Food Forward!
- Food Forward celebrated Toronto’s first Food Justice Dayon May 5 2015 at City Hall. See the official Proclamation from Mayor John Tory here!
- Food Forward’s Building Roots initiative was named one of 10 Agents of Change by the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) in February to support its growth into a social venture.
- Hosted about 50 memorable events from Etobicoke to Malvern, helping to deepen and connect the food movement across the City
- Improved the Local Food Act and municipal food policy, including street food and local food, and showing how you Can make change at City Hall
- Set an agenda for food justice in the City supported by our Mayor and endorsed by thousands of Torontonians
Congratulations to the Food Idol Award Winners
On Wednesday August 26th, Food Forward presented their annual Food Idol Award’s at the #2hot4kitchen – Woman’s Food System and Food Idol Awards and Community Festival in Regent Park.
For information on the winners of the #2Hot4Kitchen Women's Foods System Awards, keep an eye on: www.2hot4kitchen.com
We would also like to recognize volunteers, partners, and community members that work every day in Toronto building and creating health food communities that are inclusive, diverse, ethical, local, and resilient.
Food Forward Outstanding Member – Patrick Tohill
For over a year Patrick has stepped in, rolled up his sleeves, and put his communication and advocacy experience to work for good food change. He has helped build our positive connections, strengthened our communications, and advanced our Food Nation campaign. Thank-you Patrick! @Patrick_Tohill
Toronto Food Champion – Moorthi Senaratne
Moorthi has ensured hundreds of thousands of Torontonians have access to fresh, affordable and culturally diverse food. His great success and invaluable contributions stem from his deep understanding of the power of food as a tool for community development and of the long-term impacts of supporting local and global producers. @FoodShareTO
Toronto Food Champion – Antonio Andrew
Antonio is celebrated for his long-term commitment to food democracy, intersecting community and business, and - quote-unquote - “doing the right thing.” He has most definitely done the right thing by the initiatives he’s taken part in, from the innovative Riverdale Food Working Group to making lower-profit food markets viable. The Market at Eastview would not be viable or able to donate unsold produce to their food bank without his intelligence and strategy skills. @riverdalefood
Lifetime Achievement Award – Sang Kim
Real life stories are the ingredients that make Sang’s recipe for change so successful. One of Food Forward’s very few Honourary Lifetime Members, Sang is passionate about kids and food, and he is always ready to help the next generation learn and grow (and cook!). His work is dedicated to local and global communities, ranging from kid-focused Sushi Making For the Soul to teenage-mother focused One Pot Many Stories. Sang has always supported Food Forward, providing guidance for our advocacy and support for our events, and is always there to speak and encourage. @koreanjohnsmith
Lifetime Achievement Award – Sunday Harrison
For many years, Sunday's has advanced the growing food and justice initiative in Toronto, raising key issues of equity, race and diversity before others would. From starting Green Thumbs Growing Kids in 1999 to using gardening to transform schools to introducing a program for youth to develop life skills and sell food, Sunday has been an active, dedicated and encouraging presence in Toronto - and will continue to be so for years to come. @kidsgrowing
“Food is a Human Right” presented by Black Creek Food Justice Action Network
Toronto Food Networks Summit
Presented by Food Forward, North Toronto Local Immigration Partnership, and Flemingdon Health Centre
Thursday September 17th 9am-4pm
*We encourage anyone involved in a neighbourhood food network to sign up!
Food Secure Canada is making food an election issue! – Eat, Think, Vote
The government elected in the October 2015 Federal Election should work with others to ensure that the right to food becomes a reality for Canadians who are food insecure: Let’s Make Food Matter to our Politicians! Food Forward recently called for action on this agenda in the federal election at #2Hot4Kitchen in Regent Park. Join us in the Eat Think Vote Movement Now!
Did you know that Food Forward has our own Food Nation campaign, which is municipally focused, and has overlap with the Eat Think Vote platform, check it out here and sign on if you haven’t already!
Volunteer with us!
As Food Forward grows and distributes our efforts, there are key roles we need to fill to keep the organization going and growing, as an active grassroots group. If you’re interested in volunteering, especially in a key Membership or Fundraising role, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the word VOLUNTEER in the subject line and brief description of your interests in food and related organizational skills.
The Food Forward Team!
- Stephanie Conroy, Internal Communications Manager