October 2010

Oct
26

Many are saying the real work begins today

Congratulations to the candidates and winners in yesterday's election.

It will be up to the next Council to support Toronto's Food Strategy, and to work on implementing the policy priorities which we've been educating and dialoguing with candidates on for the last few months. We've been very happy with the response. Indeed across all of Ontario, residents worked to bring food into the election and politicians are listening.

Food Forward's volunteers and partners did a lot in this election to bring food to a higher place in the election discussion - at a time when discussion about policy issues weren't always top of some candidates' and media's agenda. We also learned a lot along the way, and ask for your participation in creating a broader food movement across Toronto that will make positive change in hunger, health and sustainability - at City Hall and beyond - inevitable. Click Get Involved on the right.

Toronto Environmental Alliance has created a template to email your newly elected Councillor what you think their priorities should be. Click here
to write your own letter about environmental and related issues. I have a feeling we'll be doing a lot more of that.

À bientôt!

Oct
21

Pushing food forward from the ground up

Now it's time to vote, and work with the next Council

Election day looms before us - a much anticipated (and feared) moment.

These past months, I’ve worked with the Foodshed Project, a network of rural and urban food activists, academics, and artists connecting people in Southern Ontario’s local and sustainable food movement. Strong Toronto food policy is a priority for our group. To that end, I’ve been working with our Food Forward partners to build dialogue with Council candidates and community members in my own Ward (19 Trinity-Spadina), and supporting others in pushing food forward in their neighbourhoods.

[Caitlin engages with mayoral candidate George Smitherman on the Toronto Food Strategy with other FoodShed members after the Toronto Environmental Alliance debate.]

Connecting with community members and Council candidates has assured me that we can build the food system we deserve, where our community is fertile ground to grow food, access affordable local food, and support farmers and food projects. At a Ward 19 debate, I asked how candidates would support the Toronto Food Strategy (TFS) if elected. Most candidates pleaded ignorance, but two clearly showed their support of strong food policy: Karen Sun and Mike Layton.

After the debate and the following day at the Trinity-Bellwoods Farmers’ Market I had dynamic conversations with my neighbours – some thinking about food policy for the first time, and some already supporting the movement. This was engaging and powerful dialogue and it gave me immense hope that I know is shared by all of you who took similar action in your own neighbourhoods!

Once the dust settles next week, we will have a new City Council. Regardless of who they are, they will decide whether to implement a comprehensive set of local and sustainable food policies through the TFS. We must remember that the mayor cannot make decisions without the support of councillors, and in the end, they are accountable to us.

Thanks to the hard work of so many organizations and community members, we’ve reached a tipping point in Toronto’s food movement.

Now, we must use our momentum to continue to push food forward and ensure that Council implements the policies we need to grow local and sustainable food systems – for Toronto, and for the larger Southern Ontario foodshed.

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Vote on Monday with food in mind.
Find out how to vote: http://voteto.ca

Oct
14

Eat early, vote often: the case for kids

A new report released this week tells us that early nutrition is key to health and prosperity for the years to come and points to a need for government and societal focus in this area. The International Food Policy Research Institute says that health and nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life determines outcomes such as education and even wages.

Along with other recent reports on the importance of fighting health and nutrition, this one tells of the importance of getting to it early.

According to Marie Ruel of the Institute, there is a need for governments to take this information and run with it in a big way.

"It's not enough that nutritionists know you have to intervene then, if we don't have the politicians on board," she says, "and also the...people that implement [programs] in the field."

This piece of growing research now shows the need to move ahead on prioritizing the social determinants of health such as providing healthy food to those who need it most - the young. Governments must begin to quickly focus more resources in the early years including nutrition education and healthy sustainable food that is affordable for all. Funds could be found in the savings that come down the road in sick care - or right now from subsidies to big oil, unsustainable agriculture and other wasteful spending.

The case couldn't be stronger that this would be money well spent.

Read more on the report here: http://bit.ly/first1000

Oct
7

What’s on candidates’ Thanksgiving menu?

Media Release
Thursday October 7, 2010

TORONTO, ON – As Thanksgiving approaches, Toronto election candidates are being encouraged to participate at food banks, community kitchens and gardens to educate themselves about hunger and community solutions happening throughout the City.

Food Forward is providing a number of ideas to candidates to get involved, such as volunteering to clean up a community garden; cook a local sustainable Thanksgiving meal; volunteer or donate to a food bank; help cook at a community centre; or support a community meal such as one for seniors or those impacted by the 200 Wellesley St. fire. Many candidates have already participated in the Food Poll to collect for the Daily Bread Food Bank.

Ward 9 candidate Gianfranco Amendola easily won the Toronto Food Poll, raising 2,928 pounds of food for the Daily Bread Food Bank.

“Hunger remains a real issue in Toronto and access to healthy food is out of reach for residents in many parts of the City,” said Darcy Higgins, Executive Director of Food Forward.

“Only 51% of Torontonians live within 1km of a grocery store, often making expensive and unhealthy food the easier option. The next crop of councillors should be learning about exciting food projects in the City that could be duplicated, while making food planning a key priority for City Hall,” he said.

There are also many events in Toronto with which municipal candidates may get involved:
• FoodShare’s Eat In at Queen’s Park Friday as part of Recipe for Change
• Soupalicious on Saturday benefiting Plant a Row, Grow a Row
• 10/10/10 Global Work Party for climate solutions on Sunday