Community Learning and Engagement

This past week we took some time to feature the incredible work of our Community Learning and Engagement team on our social media. Here’s a quick recap of what we shared!

The Community Learning and Engagement team facilitates learning experiences about food that centre conversations around power and justice in the food system. They focus on culturally affirming workshops that honour participants’ prior knowledge and food skills.

The team creates learning environments where participants can share and build on their knowledge about the food system and can identify ways to engage in creating change. Their workshops use curriculum that is connected to FoodShare’s work on the right to food, racial and environmental justice, reconciliation, body liberation and fat acceptance, and anti-poverty work.

Chefs@Home

Representation is so important when it comes to education. Having a mentor who looks like you and shares your cultural identity can really shape your learning experience.

The Community Learning and Engagement team’s Chefs@Home workshops facilitate that link between youth of colour and BIPOC chefs, so that youth have access to culturally affirming food education.

Through Chefs@Home, the team’s Senior Coordinator Wynette Tavares and Educator Ranu Hamilton connect BIPOC youth with some of Toronto’s most exciting chefs who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of colour. 

Youth learn about the cultural roots of the foods they are cooking, practice basic knife and food prep skills and ultimately prepare a delicious dish ready to share with their households.

Participants receive a fully-stocked ingredient kit ahead of each session at no charge, delivered by our partners at Gig Workers United, so that budget and access play no part in who gets a seat at the chef’s table.

Past chefs include Luis Valenzuela, Bashir Munye, Joshna Maharaj, The Flying Chestnut Kitchen and Suzanne Barr.

Thanks to Whole Foods Market Ontario and RBC for helping to fund this program, as well as UofT Engineering Outreach Program for partnering on STEAM@Home, a science-focused version of Chefs@Home.

Workplace Workshops & Community Kitchens

The Community Learning and Engagement team loves bringing people together to share their knowledge, stories, and traditions around food!

The team runs a series of virtual workshops in partnership with Care/Of, fusing a cooking class with anti-oppression training. Led by jade guthrie, the team’s Educator and Curriculum Lead, these workshops bring coworkers together to prepare a meal while discussing the ways that forces such as racism, colonialism, and fatphobia have shaped our food system.

The profits earned from this engaging series go towards funding other programs like Community Kitchens: facilitated cooking workshops for folks who are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity. Participants receive a meal kit and jade and Asam, the team’s Anti-Oppression Educator, walk them through a cooking session, with the goal of building connections, exchanging food skills and sharing a meal together.

If you’re interested in supporting this work, you can either make a donation to FoodShare, or book a workplace workshop for your team.

If you are a community-based group interested in participating in the Community Kitchens program, fill out this form.

Baby and Toddler Nutrition

For the little ones in your life, the Community Learning and Engagement team hosts virtual baby and toddler nutrition workshops every month. 👶🍏

Dietitian Calla Fong – Baby and Toddler Nutrition Project Coordinator, and Kanthi Anandakumar and Marcela Jaramillo – Baby and Toddler Nutrition Peer Educators show parents and caregivers how to prepare homemade baby food, provide tips and hints on fussy eaters, and answer questions about feeding your child in a way that feels good for you and your family.

In addition to Baby & Toddler Food Basics, the team has introduced a new virtual workshop series: Preschool Food Basics. These workshops expand on feeding young children to include ideas for engaging little ones in the kitchen and packing lunch boxes that will come home empty every day. 

Thank you to United Way, John and Marian Taylor Foundation, Alice and Murray Maitland Foundation, and Ralph and Maureen Phillips Foundation for helping to fund our baby and toddler nutrition programs.

Keep an eye on our social media (@FoodShareTO) to find out when the next baby and toddler nutrition workshops are taking place!

Food Rx

Can you imagine a world where people who need food can simply access it as part of a suite of supportive services? The Community Learning and Engagement Team is piloting this very idea through a program called Food Rx.

In partnership with the University Health Network, this program connects folks who face increased financial and physical barriers to food access with regular delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables. 

In addition to receiving a Good Food Box at no charge, folks take part in regular check-in calls with Sheldomar Elliott – Food Rx Coordinator and Jennifer Eaman – Food Rx Facilitator to see how they are doing and learn more about how the Good Food Box impacts their daily life.

In less than a year, we’re already seeing incredible results — nearly 70% of program participants have reported improvements to their quality of life, happiness, and sense of connection with community as well as their mental and physical well-being.

Participants have told us that receiving the box is “like Christmas every two weeks!” and that “as a single mom with two kids, this has been a great help to get free vegetables and fruit for my kids.” One person mentioned that “it’s a feeling of liberation” and that they “love sharing extra with friends and the community.”

Thanks to the University Health Network for collaborating with us on this program, with support from the McConnell Foundation, Medavie and Arrell Family Foundation.

For more info on how the program is performing, check out the Food Rx Progress Report at https://foodshare.net/custom/uploads/2021/08/Food-RX-Progress-Report.pdf


Thanks for joining us to hear all about the Community Learning and Engagement team. If you don’t already, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with us and learn more about the food justice initiatives we collaborate on in Toronto.