#4: Let's Up Healthy Food


Food Nation, made up of hundreds of Torontonians including many City Councillors, is calling for a major reduction in poverty over this Council term. We need a strong push from all governments to create fair incomes for all.

Torontonians who can't afford to buy food continue to depend on assistance programs of many kinds that operate throughout the City. While we rely on these programs, we need to ensure the amount of food that's provided is of high quality and quantity. A number of projects are coming together to ensure better food, and we need to do more.

The First Food Nation Town Hall at George Brown College, early 2014

Along with the rise of community food centres and food banks that are working hard to improve their operations, we have a few great projects and policies that are making a difference.

The new food program tax credit for community food organizations allows farmers some funds back to donate fresh food to community programs. A new vegetarian food bank has just opened downtown, bringing more fresh produce to a number of Torontonians. Meanwhile, Creating Health Plus is getting healthy food staples to drop-ins across Toronto.

Varying amounts of modest funds are allowing these projects to happen. They are making a difference in health and dignity across the City. That's why Food Nation's fourth plank advocates: Bring fresh, healthy food to 100 food assistance programs.

During this Council term, the City needs to scale up the work of projects like these, and itself implement a sustainable fund to increase the amount of healthy food distributed in our diverse communities - for fresh food, and the infrastructure to prepare it. We want to see 100 community programs to have access, which could mean starting out with a four million dollar fund, just over a dollar per Torontonian. It would go a long way.

Programs like this work so well in partnership. Stronger leadership from the City on food access can bring other levels of government and partners to the table to bring contributions as well. Food simple must have a strong and reiterated mandate from City Council and with the funds to back it up.

Not only does healthy food need to be readily accessible, it food must be dignified, respecting our multitude of diets and cultural traditions. We can't have a one size fits all approach - community involvement should drive food choices.

We look forward to the kind of leadership that sees the solutions happening in our communities, and provides the support to make these solutions stronger. As we work towards food justice and access for everyone, there are things Toronto can do right away to make things better.

This was re-posted from the Food Nation blog. Food Nation is a campaign by Food Forward's Food Justice Committee which began at the end of 2013. It has the full support of Toronto's mayor and much of City Council.