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.
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 email@example.com 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
On May 5th, Food Forward celebrated Toronto’s first Food Justice Day with a reception at City Hall for councillors and good food advocates to celebrate the important work being done in Toronto. Councillors Cho, Colle, Cressy, DiCiano, Doucette, Filion, Fragedakis, McMahon and Mihevc were on hand to support the Food Nation platform and reaffirm the city’s commitment to ensuring that all Torontonians are able to overcome economic and racial inequalities, and access healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food.
FoodShare’s Nydia Dauphin and caterToronto’s Vanessa Ling Yu told us about the important food justice work they are doing, and offered some insight into where more effort is needed.
Food Forward would like to thank FoodShare, Toronto Food Policy Council, Malvern Action for Neighbourhood Change, 5N2 Soup Kitchens, the Aangen Community Centre, and many others for joining us; and caterToronto, Good Food for Good, Evelyn’s Crackers, and Building Roots for the delicious food!
- View the Food Justice Day proclamation, read on behalf of the mayor by Councillor Mihevc
- Review and endorse the Food Nation platform and our work over the last year and a half to push food forward
- View the Food Justice Committee's presentation for Food Justice Day explaining the rationale and need for more action on policies to address food access during this Council term
- Read the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council's endorsement of Food Nation
- Read Councillor McMahon's comments on Food Justice Day
Last week, Toronto Mayor John Tory proclaimed May 5, 2015 Food Justice Day in Toronto. For this special occasion, Nydia Dauphin, FoodShare Toronto’s Food Justice Senior Coordinator, was among the guest speakers invited to City Hall to share their work and recommendations to advance food justice in the city.
About FoodShare Toronto’s Food Justice Work
FoodShare Toronto is a non-profit community food organization that develops long-term solutions to address food system inequalities. Our programs follow a food justice community development model to rebuild community control of our food system by partnering with community leaders, organizations, and schools.
FoodShare prioritizes work with low-income communities and schools through focused programs in fresh produce distribution, food literacy education, urban agriculture, nutrition and community cooking. All programs support a variety of health, economic, environmental, community, and social benefits, and seek to improve food access for everyone currently underserved by the food system.
Since first founded in 1985, FoodShare’s visionary leadership has pioneered long-term replicable solutions, and cultivated public empowerment and awareness of food issues. FoodShare believes that high-quality affordable healthy food should be universally available, and advocates for policy change needed to address the root causes of hunger.
The Cross-Cultural Food Access Innovation Hub
Through the Cross-Cultural Food Access Innovation Hub, FoodShare supports local solutions to address systems of oppression and exclusion in the food system. With this work, FoodShare has made it a priority to work with members of the indigenous community (the Three Sisters’ House/Nswo Nshiimenhig Endaayat), the African-Caribbean community (the Black Farmers and Growers Collective) as well as the New Comers community (Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee), by providing organizational resources to support these community-led groups.
Food Justice Network
FoodShare Toronto animates a Food Justice Network in partnership with Food Secure Canada. Food Secure Canada is a pan-Canadian alliance of organizations and individuals working together to advance food security and food sovereignty through three inter-locking goals: zero hunger, healthy and safe food, and sustainable food systems. The aim of this network is to elevate food justice understanding and application across the country.
Growing Food and Justice for All - Toronto Local Empowerment Group
At the local level, FoodShare coordinates the Toronto chapter of the North American Growing Food and Justice for all initiative, which works to dismantle racism and empower low-income and communities of color through sustainable and local agriculture. From May 22-24, we will be hosting for the second time in Toronto a Growing Food Justice by Uprooting Racism Training with facilitators from Growing Power. This training aims to push forward the integration of racial justice principles into the food justice movement, to give hands on tools, to continue a strategic dialogue and to enable an exchange between activists who work in this field.
The following recommendations were put forth:
1. a City wide adoption of the notion of racialized food insecurity. A Racialized group is a group categorized or differentiated on the basis of membership in a racial group. This process becomes the basis through which groups are subjected to differential treatments. This is fairly known when we are talking about poverty, un/underemployment or incarceration, with statistics attesting to the overrepresentation of people of colour and indigenous communities in these instances. But food access is no different. In 2012, PROOF who conducts research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity, released their Report on Household Food Insecurity. The report revealed that 28.2% of surveyed indigenous households in Canada were food insecure, 27.8% for Black households respondents, and 19.8% for recent immigrants to Canada (less than 5 years) compared to a Canadian average of 12.6%.
Recognizing that food insecurity is also racialized would lead to a promotion of community-specific initiatives and move away forom a colour-blind approaches that leave so many of these communities' needs unmet. Adopting this notion would ensure that city planning policies were informed by that lens and propose solutions that lead to structural change, directly challenging systemic racism in the City.
For example, the Urban Heart Indicator that was used last year to determine the new Neighborhood Improvement Areas in Toronto limited its analysis of food security to the presence of healthy food stores. A more thorough analysis informed with the notion of racialized food insecurity at its core would have looked at ethnic composition of each neighborhood in conjunction with the cultural appropriateness of food, its affordability and income levels to name a few. This in turn would lead to the adoption of solutions at the city level that challenge the root causes of these inequities which are systemic in nature.
2. Increase the availability of trainings for social services and health care professional staff around food justice and inequalities. As first responders directly in contact with food insecure communities, these practitioners must be equipped with the tools to understand how structural racism operates and how this affects the dynamic of their work in these communities. The training we are hosting next week is but one example of the initiatives that should be more readily available across the city and that have the potential to truly change the narrative of food insecurity.
3. Increased city dedicated resources and staff (food justice/equity animators) to work with communities most impacted by food injustice to ensure that their voices are heard and are central to the solution process. From our experience, we see an increased difficulty of getting funding for community-led groups already doing a lot of the frontline food justice work, and more often than not as volunteers. Appropriate support must be given so that they are in a position to lead the charge.
When funds are made available, a common way for these unincorporated grassroots initiatives to receive them is to enter into a trustee relationship with a larger organization. But these relationships can put the grassroot organization in a vulnerable position, as paternalistic dynamics can easily arise, leaving the grassroots far from an empowering experience. Additionally, the paperwork and bureaucratic obligations when funds are made available can be so heavy that they take precious time away from the organization’s much needed groundwork. A funding stream at the city level more adapted to the structural nature of these grassroots would increase the impact of the City’s support.
- Nydia Dauphin is the Food Justice Senior coordinator at FoodShare Toronto