Toronto

Feb
26

A kitchen in every burb!

Ask a social entrepreneur in Toronto's food scene about food or biz prep and you'll inevitably hear about a need for kitchen space.

It's the most oft heard request we get.

So we worked with Housing Services Corporation to create this map of commercial kitchens on offer in the City. Folks have been really happy about it, but I don't think we're totally satisified.

We need more rentable commercial kitchens on offer in this town. We need them for new entrepreneurs working to make sustainable and ethical products, for pop-up vendors to bring diverse foosd to the street, for Canadian newcomers to scale-up and legitimize new businesses. More kitchens would support more economic opportunities.

Some are being offered quietly by churches and restaurant owners, but aren't in a place to be doing it widely. Others might exist which we haven't found yet (please let us know!)

Our research and that of others has found this strong need, but a lack kitchens that are either certified or rented for business purposes - though good kitchens exist. The need may be highest in the inner suburbs, where many community-based catering and related food businesses exist, but kitchens on our map.

Business activity isn't always looked at as an end goal of the food movement or non-profit agencies. But it should be seen as a social and economic driver. 

Entrepreneurs may start stepping up to the plate to rent kitchens and create hubs, perhaps downtown... but with the number of community and health centres, housing, and other agencies that already have kitchens throughout the inner burbs, maybe some of them can start filling this need. As do most things, it may require some commitment, money, and time.

Food actionists are just that. So let's see what we can do.

Contact to help share ideas, solutions, connections.

Jun
5

#foodTO Video Launch & Membership Contest

We're pleased to launch this snapshot of the good food work motion in Toronto, alongwith a membership campaign & contest to grow Food Forward & our voice. This video has sprouted up thanks to Red Gecko Productions with help from some of our friends.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think, and please share this with friends. Become a member of Food Forward today!

Who should join & share? Those who care about prioritizing access to good food and good food jobs in Toronto, who want to help create an environmentally sustainable and more equitable society, while building community through food! Your membership enables our work & provides you with event discounts, great resources, and unique ways to become more involved. A donation of what you can afford keeps Food Forward sustainable. Current members can also renew or donate. 


To sweeten the deal, we're launching a membership contest as part of a drive to get more Torontonians involved. It's simple: we're asking for your help in bringing new members to Food Forward from today (June 5th) to June 22. Let us know by that date who you've referred (you can email Darcy). The member who's signed up the most Food Forward newbies will win a delicious gift basket of local & sustainable food & treats from some of the small businesses featured in our video (like Earth & City!) Good luck, and let us know if you have any questions!

Jul
14

You win some...

Thank you thank you thank you.

Your support in writing councillors and spreading the word about Toronto's local food policy helped lead to a significant win at City Council today, reversing the threat to the local food procurement policy that arose at Committee two weeks ago (see The Sun article). Good food won 40 to 1, with 4 councillors absent.

The compromise and cooperation by Councillors that led to the motion's passage was a rarely seen occurrence over the extended Council session this week, and is a victory for Toronto's food movement, the environment and Toronto food sector jobs. Only minor changes were made to the final motion which can be found here.

A petition from the Toronto Environmental Alliance along with support from local food processors, Ontario farmers and the Toronto Food Policy Council helped to lead the charge. Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon led the item and negotiations with others on Council and was applauded by colleagues for success on the motion. It proves that a united food movement with citizen action can make a difference at City Hall.

And that's an important note, because not all is good news today. The City's Core Service Review report by KPMG this morning took aim at Parks and Environment, suggesting that the City's urban agriculture program and the entire Toronto Environment Office might be areas to scrap. The report identifies urban ag as a "new and expanding activity area", though suggests it just might not be worth it. The Environment Office runs the Live Green program, which has provided significant grants and support for community food projects throughout the City, and our allotment and community gardens provide access for thousands growing their own food.

So we have to do this again and work together to tell our Councillors that urban agriculture, community food projects and a better environment are critical to the health of all Torontonians.

You can participate next by speaking at the Parks and Environment Committee on Thursday, July 21, when it discusses the core service review. You can register to depute, by contacting Kelly McCarthy by July 20 at noon, at pec@toronto.ca and 416-397-7796. It is important that residents discuss how they use these services, why they are important, and the direction they'd like to see the City take on enabling community kitchens, gardens, markets and bake ovens in our parks.

We can be a healthy City with a vibrant food culture prioritizing access for all, but only if we don't go backwards after so much success. The public feedback portion of the Core Service Review found food security mentioned as a priority time after time, with residents indicating their support for programs that address poverty and marginalization, affordable sustainable food and reduced bureaucratic blocks to community and business projects.

Let us know if you're interested in speaking at Committee, and we can help. After success today, but further threats to healthy food in Toronto, becoming a member of Food Forward is even more important. Join us and let's keep working together for positive change.

Jul
5

Acting on local food at City Hall

Last Tuesday, the Government Management Committee reviewed a status report on the City's Local Food Procurement Policy, which was create in 2008, with a goal of the City of Toronto getting to 50% local food purchasing. Tuesday's update on this progress contained a consultant's report stating that the goal of buying 50% local was not yet practical, but staff still recommended a way forward: the City's three main departments that purchase food for young children, those in long-term homes and shelters should continue to work toward increasing their local buying.

This recommendation was not passed at the Committee, under a tied vote. In fact, Councillor Doug Ford commented that the local food policy should be done away with all together.

The tie means the policy goes to Council for final decision. Though it may not be perfect policy, it is critical that the City continue to increase its purchase of local food to support public health, our environment and our local economy. One in eight Toronto jobs is in the food sector, and dissolving the existing policy would reduce City support for local business.

Tell Councillors today to support the Local Food Procurement Policy, and that:

- Good food jobs are important and according to City staff, increasing local food content provides greater economic and business opportunities for food processors in Toronto.
- The report recommends no cost increases and so voting for the policy would not affect the City Budget
- Buying locally means reducing distance to cut our carbon footprint and keep our dollars in the local economy

You can reach them by:
- Phone - Email - Tweet- Facebook - Meeting -

Council contact info: http://app.toronto.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp
Write all councillors by copying this list:

councillor_Ainslie@toronto.ca, councillor_Augimeri@toronto.ca, councillor_Bailao@toronto.ca, councillor_Berardinetti@toronto.ca, councillor_Carroll@toronto.ca, councillor_Cho@toronto.ca, councillor_Colle@toronto.ca, councillor_Crawford@toronto.ca,councillor_Crisanti@toronto.ca, councillor_Davis@toronto.ca, councillor_debaeremaeker@toronto.ca, councillor_delgrande@toronto.ca, councillor_digiorgio@toronto.ca, councillor_Doucette@toronto.ca, councillor_Filion@toronto.ca, councillor_Fletcher@toronto.ca, councillor_dFord@toronto.ca, councillor_Fragedakis@toronto.ca, councillor_Grimes@toronto.ca, councillor_Holyday@toronto.ca, councillor_Kelly@toronto.ca, councillor_Layton@toronto.ca, councillor_Lee@toronto.ca, councillor_Lindsay_luby@toronto.ca, councillor_Mammoliti@toronto.ca, councillor_Matlow@toronto.ca, councillor_McConnell@toronto.ca, councillor_McMahon@toronto.ca, councillor_Mihevc@toronto.ca, councillor_Milczyn@toronto.ca, councillor_minnan-wong@toronto.ca, councillor_Moeser@toronto.ca, councillor_Nunziata@toronto.ca, councillor_Palacio@toronto.ca, councillor_Parker@toronto.ca, councillor_Pasternak@toronto.ca, councillor_Perks@toronto.ca, councillor_Perruzza@toronto.ca, councillor_Robinson@toronto.ca, councillor_Shiner@toronto.ca, councillor_Stintz@toronto.ca, councillor_Vaughan@toronto.ca, councillor_Thompson@toronto.ca, councillor_Wongtam@toronto.ca, mayor_Ford@toronto.ca

You can also sign this petition from the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

Food Forward has had many discussions about local, sustainable food procurement by institutions at different levels of government also including hospitals, universities and schools. It just makes sense, and we hope to support continued progress. We will continue to discuss this issue in the provincial election, where all parties have expressed interest in buying local if not more.