community food projects

Aug
15

Food Forward Outstanding Member: Linda Swanston and Elena Hall

Recognizes the commitment and contributions of a Food Forward individual member towards our mission, by supporting the design and implementation of our projects, development, capacity, and/or outreach. Also considers independent work the individual has contributed to related good food projects or policies through education, advocacy, and making connections.

We have two selections who have both contributed immensely to Food Forward and to the broader community. In one short and action packed year, Elena Hall has visioned, planned, and broken ground for the first hospital food garden in Toronto.

Working in partnership with the Scadding Court Community Centre to secure a garden plot, Elena recruited over 20 volunteers to the Feed to Seed team and coordinates twice-weekly gardening sessions. Members from across the hospital community are involved, patients, staff, and survivors. The food is used in the ELLICSR kitchen for cooking demonstrations for community members touched by cancer, and the remainder of the harvest is donated to the Fort York Food Bank.

With an ambitious agenda to obtain onsite garden space and bring good fresh sustainable food into hospital kitchens across the University Health Network Elena is truly passionate in her commitment to good food in healthcare, organizing the Seed to Feed garden outside of her full-time role as a clinical study coordinator.

Elena came to Food Forward as a nutritionist interested in improving food, especially in her work at hospitals. She has been a committed volunteer with Food Forward, and especially in creating events, discussions, and connecting players to advocate and change food at hospitals. Using these connections, she created partnered with Scadding Court after a Foodie Drinks event, starting a unique hospital-community centre partnership to make things happen.

Elena has worked with our other awardee, Linda Swanston, whose early leadership within Food Forward brought the idea to lead our work on improving hospital food. Her work - solely volunteering - has pushed this agenda, writing blogs, hosting events, and getting media coverage in the City, and connecting players and moving things forward behind the scenes.

In addition to this, Linda has worked with us to prioritize a discussion of food justice to the forefront of the food movement in Toronto. After connecting on the need for discussion on food and racism, we soon connected with the Growing Food and Justice Initiative, where Linda spent a significant amount of work to support the group to accomplish its goals.

She has been a supporter of Food Forward since the beginning, and has brought critical feedback, guidance and action in our work. This includes advocacy and our efforts to reach out and grow the organization and the movement. And she’s been personally supportive of many of us. We would like to provide them with the Food Forward Oustanding Member Awards.

Check out some of our work on better food in health care and Linda's blogs.

Aug
15

Sweet New Initiative Award: West End Food Co-op

For an organization, group, or partnership whose recent work has led to the development of an initiative contributing significantly to increase: good food, food justice, and/or community food security in Toronto neighbourhoods or communities.

The West End Food Co-Op is a multi-stakeholder co-operative that includes eaters, producers, workers, and community partners. Throughout their development they have been so much more to neighbourhood residents. Their nominee said they that they have been transforming their neighbourhood by motivating people to come out of their homes to shop together, learn together and invest in a 'more-than-a-food-store' vision with their own sweat, passion and money.

WEFC is about to open its doors to being a food shop, community kitchen, cannery, learning centre, and magnificent food hub. It is an insightful initiative that has put in so much work to show that small communities can have a say on where their food comes from and how it is distributed.

One of our panelists called the hub is both practical and visionary. We wish all success for this sustainable project and encourage everyone to become involved and support it, and we are looking to learn further from its challenges and successes.

Learn more about what's coming and how to support the West End Food Co-op.

Aug
15

Food Forward Community Leader Award: Sue Sachs

As Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said, "you are going to love Nutri Sue! She is a spectacular Locavore + Foodie who runs kids' workshops at Leslieville Market."

She volunteers there every Sunday since it opened last year and her passion and commitment to getting kids to appreciate and recognize real, good food is truly inspirational!

She connects the local to the global in her interactions with the younger and older generations, talking about how eating local is inextricably linked to the health of our selves, our families, communities, and the planet.

But for her, the most important is in the tasting! She does not let anyone leave her table before they try whatever food is being featured in its wonderfully-raw, nutrient-dense state! She has become a hallmark of the Leslieville Farmers' Market, where kids and parents alike come to learn, taste, and be inspired to think global and delight in the incomparable deliciousness of local!

Congratulations and thank you to Sue for her good work for the community.

Learn more about Sue's Nutritional Consulting and about the Leslieville Farmers' Market.

Jul
5

Imagine a garden in every school

Green Thumbs Growing Kids hosted an event June 19th to launch their new provincial campaign, Imagine a Garden in Every School. The campaign aims to create broader community support and unite engaged communities for school food gardens “to share resources, ideas and experience, to work together on advocacy, and to make it easier for people across Ontario to start and maintain school food gardens.”

Dr. Bondar speaks to the crowd - by Orla Hegarty

The event itself featured Dr. Roberta Bondar as the keynote speaker. Dr. Bondar engaged the entire student population of Rose Avenue Public School at an assembly by telling jokes and making the connection between her career as the first neurologist in space and her scientific research into the importance of environmental stewardship. The event was attended by Minister of Education, Hon. Laurel Broten and by members of Manulife Financial who pledged $10 000 to creating school gardens. Food Forward, a supporter of this campaign, also had a number of members in attendance.

The assembly was followed by a colloquium featuring speakers from a variety of sectors in the broader food community, including David Crichton (Principal, Rose Avenue Public School), Richard Christie (Senior Manager, Sustainability Office, Toronto District School Board), Sunday Harrison (Director and Founder, Green Thumbs Growing Kids), Meredith Hayes (Schools Program and Student Nutrition Senior Manager, FoodShare), Susan Turner (Community Mission Specialist, Heart and Stroke Foundation), Dr. Roberta Bondar (The Roberta Bondar Foundation), Sarah Vogelzang (Nutrition Promotion Consultant, Toronto Public Health), and Ravenna Nuaimy-Barker (Director, Sustain Ontario).

Each speaker, in their own way, touched on the importance of active learning outside of the classroom and in teaching children about where their food comes from and how to grow it. They stressed that garden programming in schools is the best way to educate about healthy foods, which all children have the right to. In moving forward Dr. Bondar highlighted a report by the Working Group on Environmental Education of which she is a part, entitled, Shaping Our Schools, Shaping Our Future. The report is a key policy tool to help incorporate garden programming in Ontario schools. Ravenna Nuaimy-Barker highlighted work being done by the Children and Youth Food Network as part of an initiative of a group of organizations, including Sustain Ontario and FoodShare, providing moral support and inspiration and as a way to connect, share, and move forward. We should continue to support these two mechanisms towards creating gardens in schools across Ontario.

Educational school garden at the Winchester Street School - by Orla Hegarty

The event really highlighted all of the incredible work being done by Green Thumbs Growing Kids and the support that can be generated within the schools, the surrounding communities, and the broader good food community. There were certainly teachers and principals present at this event who were inspired by the stories they heard and who would love to help facilitate the expansion of this type of programming, not only in Toronto but across Ontario as well. Community support is instrumental in the creation and maintenance of school gardens. If you are interested in supporting this campaign find out if there is a school garden in your neighbourhood that you can help to support!

The excitement displayed by the Rose Avenue P.S. EcoTeam and the student Garden Researchers group was contagious and they were able to prove that children will take great pride in their garden if those resources are made available to them. With the support that Green Thumbs is receiving from the Heart and Stroke Foundation and all of these supporting organizations, the goal of this campaign will hopefully be realized!

Visit http://www.kidsgrowing.ca for more information on Green Thumbs Growing Kids and their campaign.

Jessica Reeve is presently working as the Ward Organizing Coordinator for Food Forward