March 2013

Mar
20

Small food businesses: what's driving you nuts?

We hear often from our members about regulations at different levels of government that hamper small food and farming producers small start-ups from getting going or scaling up your business.

We're wondering what policy, regulation, and government stumbling blocks you've faced in your good food business. Please let us know in the comments section below - this info will be really helpful for us to make some change. Please share your story:

Mar
18

No time to wait on food policy - how everything's coming together

It's quite a time for food security, as the provincial government speaks to several ways of moving forward, criss-crossing policy reports, legislation, and ideas on food policy. We've also never had a civil society so engaged in working towards food policy change.

The government is finally planning to move forward on social assistance through the results of its review, which had key recommendations on employment and rates of support. We've participated in advocacy on raising rates from the Put Food in the Budget campaign, and hope it moves forward.

Meanwhile, a government commissioned report was titled "No Time to Wait"... it's a strategy released for policy actions for healthy kids, with a preventative health focus. and food is the main and most extensive set of its recommendations. One of the proposals is to ban marketingof junk food to children. Something already proposed in a private member's bill by NDP MPP Rosario Marchese.

Another of its proposal is to provide incentives for food businesses to support community-based food programs, which has been proposed in a private member's bill by PC MPP Bob Bailey.

Minister of Health Deb Matthew agreed that we they need to move now as the title suggests. 

The PCs last week released an agriculture strategy with some excellent ideas on supporting food processors and local farmers with a new food hub, and a review of regulations, something we're also working to advance.

Further still, we are expecting the re-release of the Local Food Act, something Premier (and food+ag minister) Kathleen Wynne has committed to strengthening.

This approach to food policy coming from here and there and everywhere isn't new for governments at all levels, which respond to food through all sorts of departments and policies. 

The benefits of integrating food policy however have been touted at all levels, by Food Secure Canada and Sustain Ontario, and has been done to an extent at the municipal level, with a Food Strategy for the City of Toronto.

Bringing the pieces of food policies on the table under a broader provincial food strategy would help streamline the solutions that could support everyone from farmers to eaters to develop a healthier province. It would also recognize the ability of one policy to have multiple benefits for several desirable social outcomes.

It's an excellent time to move on food policy for several reasons:

  •  New food policies meet Premier Wynne's objectives and throne speech, like supporting job growth in rural Ontario and supporting small businesses to create jobs in the City and suburbs, while also creating a more socially just province.
  •  Everything's coming together - food policies are making headway through all of these recommendations and the government understands the benefit of fast action.
  •  As parties begin to cooperate more (it's actually happening, a little!) in this minority government, we can take look to food policies that will get support from multiple parties like the ones we're advocating for. And all MPPs will see the differences these policies can make in their communities.
  •  A Local Food Act is to be launched from a Premier who says she is ready to listen to Ontarians... the more ambitious the Act, the more results we get for jobs and health outcomes.

Three policies we've landed on that would create jobs in good food have shown growing resonance from workers and entrepreneurs, organizations, and the people of Ontario who have signed on from across the province. We think these have great a chance of support from different parties in the Act and in the budget:

  1. Public institutions purchase of local, socially and environmentall sustainable food;
  2. A review of regulations that hamper small food and farm enterprises;
  3. Support and funding for community food programs and social entrepreneurs in low income communities.
 
Food Forward and folks from around the province are ready to promote legislation that can get these things done, to show examples of good food policy in action and hopefully in a more connected and strategic way.
 

Darcy Higgins is the Executive Director of Food Forward. You can contact him at darcy@pushfoodforward.com

Mar
15

New opportunities popping up

Some cool opportunities have come up that we wanted to share with good food vendors and community organizations.

Register as a vendor for June's Toronto Food Fest. It's a multicultural show with a focus on featuring new chefs from Markham and Scarborough. You can also apply for a permanent spot with Market 707. Five new stalls are opening up! More info here. And if you want to vend at major City of Toronto organized events, check out their application form.

Check our new TOpopups for this and other upcoming events, and follow on Twitter @TOpopups.

We also know of another farmer's market and good food market looking for vendors/urban ag. Contact darcy@pushfoodforward.com to inquire. Check out our new Food Entrepreneur Training Program page for links to more opportunties for vending, education, and training.

The Regent Park Food Partnership is inviting expressions of interest from resident groups and organizations for the development of community demonstration gardens, a community greenhouse, and a bake oven. Successful applicants would work with residents and the City of Toronto on its new park.

And a reminder that letters of interest for the Weston Family Parks Challenge fo rmajor projects are due April 5 to Park People.

Mar
14

Join food celebrities in calling for food jobs

Join good food heros, farmers, entrepreneurs, and community leaders from Amherstburg to Toronto to Ottawa who've signed our petition to Premier Kathleen Wynne on the need to create good food jobs through a stronger Local Food Act!

Click here to see who's just signed, read, sign, and email the petition to your friends and colleagues.

Mar
9

North York's happening

 Food Forward’s Foodie Drinks - North York Edition! had a great turnout and mix that included local councillors, community activists, project managers, pop-up entrepreneurs, and foodies that were just simply interested. Like all Food Forward events, individuals were busy planting seeds by sharing ideas, inspiring news and progress on projects and programs focusing on skills and career development.  

Inspiring moments of the night included a presentation by Juneeja ofNorth York Harvest Food Bank who presented an overview of the new Oriole Food Space and their cooking workshops, variety of community-led food activities and food bank. The workshops function as a type of seminar allowing individuals to try new foods and people a chance to share their ethnic cuisines.  These workshops are imperative and Toronto needs more in our increasingly diverse communities! 

Councillor John Filion shared the exciting local garden possibilities at Avondale Park (located near Yonge St. and the 401) and Edithville Park (near Finch Avenue between Senlac and Beecroft). He also mentioned a St. Lawrence Market-style space in newly developed condominium spaces where food retail space will be run in co-operation by the city throughout the year.  He also mentioned work on to encourage temporary use of vacant spaces by food vendors, and a street food emphasis for this year's dynamic Cultura Festival in Mel Lastman Square.

North York Community House’s presentation was a shining moment for local food, as the organization’s social venture catering team Delightfully Yours presented on their growing numbers and support. This program seeks to help women from different cultural and social backgrounds in training for employment purposes while providing soft and hard business skills. Agency staff and program participants shared their testimonies in the value of not just being financial capable, but being a part of a community. Food Forward will be working with them and other businesses across the City this year to create a Community Based Catering Network for stronger economic outcomes.

Food Forward would like to share special thanks to the York University Faculty of Environmental Studies for sponsoring, Councilor John Filion, Councilor Shelley Carroll, and many other partners across North York. And a big thank you to all the organizations and foodies that came out. If you want more information on these organizations, please take a look at the list below and their respective links: 

North York Community House

Toronto Youth Food Policy Council

North York Harvest Food Bank 

Unison Health and Community Servcies

Bathurst-Finch Network Food Action Team

Dallington Park Pollinator Garden 

Parkview Neightbourhood Garden 

Future Watch

Big E’s Grinds 

P.S. If you’re a local food gardener and would like to add diversity in your garden, Future Watch is having a seed exchange on March 24th, 2013.

If you’re a thinker, scholar, writer than the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council’s call for Journal submission is for you.

Mar
8

Poverty Problem, on CBC

Listen to our friend Greg Frankson give his Weekly Dose of Ritallin on CBC's Here and Now today. His poem, Poverty Problem, speaks to the need for action on food insecurity and the Federal Government's weak and misguided reaction to the UN Special Rapportuer on the Right to Food report on Canada.

Listen to Ritallin

Act