food access

Sep
16

Act now: save our food programs

We now know that momentum and public opinion in Toronto is against the deep cuts proposed to our health, social, infrastructure and environmental services and grants.  Hundreds of Torontonians attended a meeting at Dufferin Grove Park to pen the joint Toronto Declaration.  It includes support for food programs, environmental programs and farmer's markets.

Councillors on the fence can we swayed to vote against cuts to food and related programs that make our City a healthier and more prosperous place to live.  Cuts to the Riverdale Farm, Toronto Urban farm, Toronto Environment Office and community grants as recommended by the City Manager are not on our agenda.  Please call or e-mail Councillors today to let them know that scrapping these programs hurts the most vulnerable Torontonians, job creation and our environment, and that our city can do better.  You can still sign our petition before we present it to Council.

In a time when municipal support for food programs like urban agriculture is increasing throughout the world, and the movement explodes in Toronto, we need more City support, not less.  Please spread the word online and ask your friends to call or write too.  Join our political picnic against the cuts at City Council's lunch break September 26.  See our TO Events Hub (above) for more!

Aug
30

Our Café in the Park

Food Forward has been supporting the community food connections to help get a unique project off the ground in St. James Town.  Our member and cafe organizer, Rebecca blogged about its launch event, intended to outreach and build further support.  Our Education Intern Caitlin Greenham and Executive Director, Darcy Higgins spoke at the event on engaging in the municipal budget and provincial election.  Partnerships made this happen, with resident support along with organizations such as Low Income Families Together (LIFT), Toronto Green Community and many neighbourhood organizations.  More photos will be shared on our Facebook group.

Below is from Rebecca's blog, The First Day:

 
While I haven’t been writing, I haven’t given in to despair. I have been busy working on a project to engage people to enjoy and advocate for for healthy affordable food. Our plan is to establish a co- operative community café where people from many economic and cultural groups can talk, organize, eat, drink, cook, listen to music, and join in growing and preparing food and buying affordable organic food through a food buying club.
 
Through the amazing connection-making powers of Nancy and Jo, and many others, we have built a strong network of people and organizations who are helping make this project happen (we’re still looking for more – if you’re interested!) On Friday August 19, we held the first trial run of the community café, and it was a fantastic success! 
While we work now on securing funds and a permanent space, we're also looking forward to the next café in the park, on September 23!

Thank you to Jeffrey Chan for the fantastic photos! http://www.snapclickpixel.com/

 
 

 


 

Jul
29

FoodShare asks Mayor and City of Toronto to Reconsider Cuts

Media Release from FoodShare:

FoodShare asks Mayor and City of Toronto to Reconsider Cuts:
Do Not Destroy the Social Safety Net – You will make Toronto Unliveable for All

FoodShare Executive Director Debbie Field today will today ask Mayor Ford and the Executive Committee to reconsider cuts to community programs and ensure that Toronto's social safety net is not destroyed, creating profound human cost more deep than any financial one, which would make Toronto unliveable for all.

Our city infrastructure is not just made up of roads and physical structures," says Debbie Field. "Over many years, the City of Toronto has pioneered community and social programs that support a human infrastructure, our social safety net. Today you are considering eliminating that social safety net, the very foundation that makes Toronto a leader and a great liveable city, a city that tourists want to visit and a city that companies want to do business in. I urge you to consider the great costs to our city if you dismantle this infrastructure. These costs will have compounding negative impacts that resonate for years to come. There's a much bigger budget balancing process at stake here, one that will impact every single citizen of Toronto, and the entire city's economic prospects for years to come."

In 1985, when then-Mayor Art Eggleton recommended that the City fund the creation of FoodShare, Toronto took a pioneering step in North America and the world, prioritizing food, and recognizing the multifaceted impacts it brings, to create strong healthy liveable communities and great cities.

This week in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is spearheading a movement to turn Chicago around using urban agriculture programs. As Toronto City Council considers cuts to vital community programs like urban agriculture, other cities have just deemed these programs essential services.

Toronto needs to remain a city that puts food first. Not only does food provide the nutrition on which good health is built, it also builds and sustains healthy vibrant cities. And as 'the great connector,' something all of us have in common, it becomes a conduit through which great things are made possible:
− Building diverse and inclusive healthy communities.
− Breaking down social isolation and creating vibrant public spaces.
− Reducing violence.
− Ensuring prosperity and a strong economy.

FoodShare and our community partners are participating in the deputation process at City Hall to be sure that Mayor Ford and City Council know that when Torontonians voted for cost cutting and lower taxes, Torontonians were not voting for a fire sale and wholesale destruction of services that we use each and every day. Community Program Funding supports core services not frills.

Toronto must not go down the path taken by Boston, New York City and Los Angeles," urges Field, "cities that have all made the mistakes you are considering - cutting community and student nutrition programs, selling off public properties, closing schools - only to and reinstate them years later at greater municipal costs, after realizing far more profound human costs. Do not be pound foolish. These are essential services."

FoodShare Toronto (www.foodshare.net ) is Canada's largest community food security organization. Now in its 27th year, FoodShare works with communities to strengthen and build the City of Toronto through improving access to healthy, affordable, food through community development programs, with a vision of Good Healthy Food for All. FoodShare's programs, which reach over 145,000 children and adults per month in Toronto, include fresh produce delivery, student nutrition, community gardening, composting, community cooking, and urban agriculture. With all of its work based on a capacity-building model and the distribution of tools and solution-resources for community adaptation, FoodShare's impacts grow exponentially, supporting and building healthy communities in Toronto.

Contacts:

Debbie Field, Executive Director
c : 416.576.7349
e: debbie@foodshare.net

Adrienne De Francesco, Communications Manager
c: 647.448.2161
e: adrienne@foodshare.net

From: http://foodshare.net/Foodpolicy-ReconsiderCuts7-29-2011.htm

Jul
21

Major cuts on the table for city food programs

Toronto's food movement is using its roots to tell the City what it thinks about potential cuts to the City's urban agriculture program. With over 80 Torontonians registered to give remarks at Thursday's Parks and Environment Committee, community gardens, food centres, neighbuorhood groups, parks users and others are making themselves heard.

Toronto Council committees have been meeting this week to tackle the KPMG reports which have a small scope of reviewing existing City services upon whether they are mandatory, essential, traditional or "other". The Urban Agriculture program and Toronto Environment Office were put in the other category in the report.

Please sign and share this petition to save these programs.

More info on the process of the Parks and Environment Committee can be found here. The Executive Committee which will ultimately set much of the agenda meets next week and will also be open to deputations. The discussions will continue until the budget is decided early next year.

Food Forward congratulates our colleagues in this effort, especially Park People, LEAF, Toronto Environmental Alliance, Fresh City Farms and the Toronto Community Garden Network and the many other groups and individuals who have registered to depute and speak with councillors. Our Executive Director's deputation can be found below, and you can find watch speakers and deliberations live online Thursday, or in person on the second floor of City Hall.

Other resources:

2012 City of Toronto Budget and Parks overview from Park People: http://parkpeople.squarespace.com/parks-budget-watch/?SSScrollPosition=110

Core Service Review Summary to Parks and Environment Office from TEA:
http://www.torontoenvironment.org/servicereview/environmentoffice

------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Councillors and members of the public,

I am speaking on behalf of Food Forward, a Toronto-based community organization that provides a people's voice for a better food system. We are made up of members, and dozens of organizational and business partners throughout the City who believe that a healthy, local food system supports economic vitality and diversity in Toronto.
As an avid user of City parks, I appreciate the feedback from other deputants. As someone who has worked in urban forestry, I value the health and residential economic benefits that come from building a strong city tree canopy.

You may not have thought much previously about urban agriculture as a City service, and might be seeing it in this report and wondering if it “core”, and if it should be delivered.

Toronto has actually been providing support for urban agriculture for decades. I’ve been told stories from well before I was born about compost being delivered by the City for allotment gardens at Leslie Spit, with projects in High Park and Thorncliffe Park dating as far back as the 1970s.

Although it has a significant history in the City, today urban agriculture has completely taken off in Toronto like never before. I learn about new projects all the time, in all parts of the City, with neighbourhood groups looking to grow healthy food, and ending up in beneficial situations I’ve seen where seniors and youth work together, where safety has improved in parks, and even programs in which homeless Torontonians have found a place to feel safe and be proud of. We’re using the gardens as springboards for building more projects in our communities, like canning workshops to preserve good food year-round, and providing fresh food for local food banks.

These projects are making a difference in Regent Park, Bathurst and Finch, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Flemingdon Park, Willowdale, Scarborough Village, Jane and Finch, and on and on. Another way to see the interest is by looking at public comments in the Core Service Review where food security, environment, affordable and local food are mentioned countless times.

Work in community gardens now provides employment experience, as entrepreneurs start up companies throughout the City doing urban agriculture for profit, a number of which have begun in the last couple of years.

Toronto is not unique in its dramatic increase in chronic disease, especially in vulnerable areas where access to healthy food is hard to find. But it is a leader in community food and business solutions that are driving positive changes in peoples’ lives.

The Toronto Environment Office and Live Green have been big supporters of urban agriculture, their staff providing needed resources and connections to residents, and their grants helping to provide start-up supplies and valuable internships for youth. Live Green supported a community festival I helped organize in St. James Town that lent an opportunity for kids to interact, learn and become better connected with their community.

The removal of the Toronto Environment Office or urban agriculture program would mean significant loss for many communities who people are working so hard in our neighbourhoods to increase access to healthy, sustainable food.

May there be efficiencies in the urban agriculture program, opportunities to do it better and for the community to become even more engaged? Yes, probably. The biggest complaints I’ve heard are that there is not enough support, lists are too long, or there are too many barriers to get involved. But ignoring the potential for nuanced improvements by eliminating these and related programs as identified in the KPMG report would be the wrong approach.

Torontonians involved in food security have a very clear picture of what would work better: parks and public spaces where gardens, bake ovens, fruit trees, community kitchens and farmers’ markets are welcome and where community innovation and even small business can flourish.

We hope the Committee itself will have a serious discussion about these matters, and we offer our ongoing support to build a stronger, efficient and healthy Toronto.

Thank you.

Darcy Higgins
Executive Director, Food Forward