food access

Feb
8

Not Just Talk - getting to the roots on Feb16

Tanya Fields is a woman who inspires me these days.

Her work with the BLK ProjeK is the kind that empowers people and communities - in particular, underserved women of colour - to take back control of this broken food system and lead with the change they want to see.

It was because of this type of food movement work, most likely, that she was invited, and then uninvited to be a featured speaker at TedXManhattan: Changing the way we eat. Her organzing on good food and food jobs in the Bronx is bringing hundreds together while creating positive change. It shows the difference a person can make while giving it what you've got, and developing some skills and ideas with the community.

An open letter from Tanya to the organizers regarding the dis-invite was when the issue and Tanya's work came to my attention. An apology and reconcilitation note later came, with the hope of focusing on stronger attention to issues of food justice and race using a critical lense. A food movement that doesn't focus on realities of economies, poverty, racism, or privilege isn't much of a movement at all. 

Their vision for a way forward could in fact be a model for those working in Toronto as well:

"The consequences of and responses to this action have provided a powerful message about how fundamental issues of race, representation, cultural divide and fear affect our work and must be addressed, respectfully and honestly... We are determined to harness the power and commitment that was so clearly expressed and use it as fuel for positive solutions as we move forward."

After the invitation was revoked, Tanya went ahead to organize an event Not Just Talk: Food in the South Bronx, at the same time as TEDxManhattan. Organizers of each, however, will now be attending each others' events and sharing dialogue.

So here in Toronto, Lettuce Connect with the Academy of the Impossible is co-hosting a viewing party of the Ted talks on Saturday February 16th - there I'll say a few words on my learning on the ability to likewise expand food justice work in Toronto. Meanwhile, we have the Live Stream details from Tanya to view Not Just Talk from the winterty comfort of home. Both run all day, and it should be easy to catch some of either or both events.

Our food connections and diverse work need strong community roots. 

Check out the details of these events, as well as Canadian Organic Growers' conference the same day, and let's all have a weekend of practical learning together.

Darcy Higgins, Executive Director of Food Forward can be reached at darcy@pushfoodforward.com

Learn about the Growing Food & Justice Initiative .

Nov
9

Calling for unanimous support to GrowTO

Food Forward has called on councillors to fully endorse Scaling Up Urban Agriculture today as the Parks and Environment Committee discusses a report moved by Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon highlighting recommendations from the GrowTO Action Plan.

We have written in support of the recommmndations after a remarkable show of interest in urban agriculture this summer and increasing support over the last decade in the form of several reports, city strategies, community programs and new enterprises. We are looking forward to see the City will take another step forward in its support of an urban agriculture program and a co-ordinated office. 

As the number of Torontonians vulnerable to food insecurity increases due to the economic situation, urban agriculture can be part of a strategy for increasing access to good food, and create jobs in all parts of the City. 

To do this, we'll need to see an increase in support and leadership from the City to end any unnecessary hurdles faced by community members, agencies, or budding entrepreneurs. The City support within a number of divisions that exists has been helpful in producing results. Stumbling blocks are sometimes faced in Parks, due to lack of City staff resources, and will erode somewhat in 2013 due to the loss of the Live Green animator program. The recommendations also aim to review policy change to support land use and sale of food.

We hope for unanimous support and a strong call from the Committee to see a report return in good time that will bring enhanced City support and a clear, simple program to respond to Torontonians' action in the growing and distribution of food.

Find Councillor McMahon's letter and motion and the GrowTO Action Plan and its many more recommendations for Toronto's food and political community. And more here on our past urban ag work.

Nov
8

How do our gardens grow?

Community gardening is on a roll in Toronto. Gardens are part of most community food programs and a part of developments in new park and neighbourhoods plans throughout the City.

Despite this, the City hasn't met its 1999 target of a garden in every ward... we're short about 19 wards (outof 44). Though the target may have been more symbolic than practical (it takes a community not government itself to create a garden), there is still work that City staff, residents, and councillors can do together to achieve our potential.

Taking leadership in this work has been the Live Green community animators under EcoSpark, who have been working all over the City supporting residents to start community gardens along with other local food and environmental projects. Food Forward has worked in partnership with the four animators and watched them do amazing things to support and enable community work. For example, our Food For Ward rep in ward 25 is working with North York's community animator to start a community garden in York Mills.

It is unfortuante then, after a five year run, the community animation program (destined to run for that length), is ending this year. As a final event, the animators are organizing four panels for community members working to start environmental projects. I am excited to be moderating the discussion on community gardens with a number of experienced community food organizers. 

I hope that a type of animation program can again be re-born with the City's support. For now we can learn from each other's work through forums like these; food and community organizations in the City; and one-on-one connections built through events like Foodie Drinks', Facebook, and networks including the Food For Ward Project we've established. 

We can also work with local city councillors, many of whom are more than happy to assist gardens get started. We've had conversations with many and know of councillors who are helpful or want to help - here's an incomplete list of food & garden keeners if you're want to connect (and let us know who we should add): Councillors Bailao, Councillor Berardinetti, Councillor Carroll, Councillor Cho, Councillor Colle, Councillor De Baeremaeker, Councillor Doucette, Councillor Filion, Councillor Fletcher, Councillor Fragedakis, Councillor Layon, Councillor Matlow, Councillor McMahon, Councillor McConnell, Councillor Parker, councillor Pasternak, Councillor Robinson, Councillor Vaughan, Councillor Wong-Tam.

Check here for more resources.

Oct
30

Bien manger pour mieux vivre!

October 31 2012

by Xavier Lambert

Read en français dans LE MÉTROPOLITAIN about World Food Day Toronto and some of the work being done to address hunger and food access in Toronto and Regent Park. 

Connect with good food work in Toronto-Centre through our Food For Ward Facebook group, and read more from the Christian Resource Centre on their work and the joint Regent Park Food Partnership. We agree with David Reycraft that government must act on hunger, and are excited to profile the work being done by the community.

« J’ai faim! », c’est en ces termes que Nick Saul de la banque alimentaire The Stop s’est adressé à son auditoire au centre Daniels Spectrum situé dans le quartier de Regent Park. Il reprenait les mots d’un jeune homme qu’il avait rencontré il y a peu de temps à un feu rouge à une intersection de la ville. 

« Je n’oublierai jamais son regard intense », avouait le directeur.

La dizaine d’intervenants invités le soir du 16 octobre, date choisie par l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture comme étant la Journée mondiale de l’alimentation, à venir parler de la malnutrition à Toronto. Tous n’ont pas manqué de faire un constat inquiétant à propos du manque d’équité et d’accès à une alimentation saine pour beaucoup de nos concitoyens. 

Les statistiques sont alarmantes quand on apprend que la moitié des Torontois n’ont pas un accès facile à des produits frais et sains pour des raisons financières, d’éloignement ou des problèmes de mobilité. Les banques alimentaires ont reçu un million de visites au cours des 12 derniers mois, signe annonciateur d’une situation qui s’empire. 

« Nous aidons des personnes de plus en plus âgées ou de plus en plus jeunes », souligne David Reycraft, directeur du foyer pour sans-abri Dixon Hall. Son centre est justement situé près du quartier de Regent Park, un endroit qui reçoit un nombre important de francophones venus de pays africains comme le Congo ou le Burundi. Dans un excellent français, le directeur explique que d’autres arrivent à Toronto en suivant « les routes de la faim » qui prennent leur origine dans les Maritimes, le Québec ou bien le nord de l’Ontario. Le français figure au deuxième rang parmi les langues en croissance dans ce quartier désigné par la municipalité comme étant une zone prioritaire. 

Celina Agaton, directrice de l’organisme Films That Move et organisatrice de l’événement, ainsi que Darcy Higgins de l’organisme Food Forward, constatent qu’il existe à Toronto des « déserts », zones dans lesquelles il n’y a pas de magasins de produits frais. Les résidents doivent alors se nourrir d’une alimentation de qualité inférieure. De graves problèmes de santé s’ensuivent, nombreux sont ceux qui par exemple souffrent du diabète.

Plus: http://www.lemetropolitain.com/nouvelles.asp?nID=16984

Photo : Soupe de légumes avec de la truite servie dans une moitié de melon.