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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Toronto food literacy leader Green Thumbs Growing Kids has their downtown school garden profiled with CTV's Marc Cullen.
Our friend Sunday Harrison's guest blog on the site includes a vision for school gardens:
I'm a long-time fan of Mark Cullen and his no-nonsense approach to getting everyone comfortable with gardening. He's a great supporter of organic and children's gardens, so it was a huge honour to host him at the Winchester School Community Garden, where I've been gardening for 10 years with students from kindergarten to Grade 8. Our not-for-profit, charitable organization Green Thumbs Growing Kids was created and developed through our relationship to this school, using the unusually large garden for summer programs. Our mission is to help children and youth grow and eat their own healthy foods -- and to work with teachers to tie it all into curriculum in science, language, math, art and the environment.
Read more and see Marc's interviews with the kids:
Everyone's been enjoying our "Foodie Drinks" and the weather dial's been turned to Gorgeous, so we're moving outside for our next food movement get-together.
Not the Queen's kind of garden party, we'll be meeting at Eglinton Park Heritage Garden for a picnic and tour. Bring some dinner and enjoy mingling with gardeners and new friends, while getting a tour of the Eglinton Park Heritage Garden and learning about what makes it unique, from Toronto Green Community's Emily Martyn.
- Thursday, June 9 · 6:30pm - 8:30pm
- Eglinton Park Heritage Garden (north-west side of Toronto Memorial Centre) at 200 Eglinton Avenue West (near Eglinton Station)
It's also Market Day at Eglinton Park, so come by a little early to pick something up from Appletree Market, which closes at 7.
More details on the Garden here.
Wherever you are in the City, it will be worth the visit. Special welcome to residents & businesses in the neighbourhood.
Hosted by Food Forward. As always, donations and memberships will be accepted.
Mark attendance on Facebook.
St. James Town is unique in its density and population but has similar food security problems as many communities across Toronto and across the country.
by Darcy Higgins
Yesterday on my way home, I ran into a community member I recognized from St. James Town, who was asking for change, and I stopped to chat. “Hunger is a big problem,” she told me, after we discussed my advocacy work.
Residents of St. James Town have often felt ignored by different levels of government when it comes dealing with issues that matter to them. But they are also very self-reliant, reacting head on to difficulties and a deficiency of resources with community spirit and innovation.
Disparities in hunger and nutrition are being addressed with on the ground discussions and projects in community food security. The work in this and nearby neighbouhoods by L.I.F.T., Green Thumbs Growing Kids, Youth4Health, UforChange and support from groups like Evergreen and FoodShare have helped with these issues, while also enhancing meals, greenspace, education and community building.
Many solutions are being explored and implemented in these community projects with an increasing growth of young leaders in food projects and related work.
Read more: http://stjamestown.ca/2011/04/15/48/