FoodShare acknowledges that the sacred land in which we operate is situated upon the traditional territories of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, the Anishinabeg, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. This territory is covered by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Anishinabeg and Haudenosaunee allied nations to peaceably share and care for the lands around the Great Lakes. FoodShare recognizes the many Nations of Indigenous People who presently live on this land, those who have spent time here and the ancestors who have hunted and gathered on this land known as Turtle Island. FoodShare recognizes and supports the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, applying both to our work. FoodShare’s work is guided by principles of food justice, this includes receiving ongoing guidance from an Indigenous Advisory Circle on our work and on collaborations with Indigenous groups working towards Indigenous food sovereignty and increasing Indigenous food access.
4 million Canadians struggle with food insecurity. Of that number, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and People with Disabilities experience the highest levels of poverty and hunger. Food insecurity is not only about costly produce and proximity to a grocery store. Colonialism, racism, ableism, patriarchy, white supremacy and transphobia all shape who gets to eat, who gets to work and even who gets to lead in the solution finding. While community food interventions provide some relief, realizing food justice doesn’t just mean making produce a little bit cheaper. It doesn’t just mean a bountiful community garden. It means fundamental systems change! To us, food justice means working to dismantle the systemic forms of oppression structuring our food system and food movement.
Community food programs will never solve food insecurity or poverty. We need to advocate collectively for bold policy interventions on existing systems that act as pipelines to poverty and food insecurity. That’s why we’re in the process of aligning and evaluating our work to ensure that it drives at dismantling sites of exploitation.
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Our work with the Indigenous Advisory Circle
It’s vital that we continue prioritizing reconciliation, both the significant work that remains and our personal and organizational roles in it. At FoodShare, we understand that a land acknowledgement is important. But we need to challenge ourselves to go further in advancing reconciliation. And given that we’re not an Indigenous or Indigenous-led organization, we have co-created the Indigenous Advisory Circle to support and guide FoodShare in our ongoing learning and action. The Indigenous Advisory Circle advises us on programs, policies and our collective advocacy work. They set the agenda for how we collaborate with Indigenous communities in advancing Indigenous food sovereignty.
New human resource policies: wages
Industrialization of the food system drives low-pay and precarious work, increasing the gap between minimum wages and liveable wages. Food workers are among the lowest paid and, ironically, the most food insecure in our province. That’s why we applied a poverty reduction lens to our most recent pay grid review (July 2018). Lower pay bands increased by 25% while highest bands, including senior managers, directors and the executive director, received a 0% increase.
New human resource policies: training
Many assumptions guide the food movement’s work. Given our food justice mission, we apply a critical equity lens to program design and delivery. This means embedding food justice in all our work, from the recipes guiding a cooking workshop to how we phrase a fundraising proposal. We continue training staff and board members on anti-racism and how oppression manifests in our food system and food movement.
A spotlight on women chefs of colour
Women make up close to 50% of all restaurant workers, yet only 20% are chefs. Glaringly, only 6% are head/executive chefs. For female chefs of colour, the numbers are even lower. In a dynamic culinary city like Toronto, that’s a failure. So we highlighted 30+ female chefs of colour at our largest annual fundraiser, Recipe for Change. It was delicious. To follow, we hosted a panel featuring some of those chefs to discuss race and gender inequity in the culinary world.
"I'm standing in a chef jacket and they say hello ma'am. If I was a white dude, they'd be saying hello chef." - Joshna Maharaj, Chef, Speaker and Activist
Engaging youth voices
Young people are vital parts of communities. Yet 1 in 4 children and youth, particularly racialized individuals, live in poverty and experience barriers to employment, food access, healthcare and more. Alarmingly, government spending on youth employment and support programs has been reduced. So we invited MPP Faisal Hassan, NDP Critic for Youth Engagement, to a food conversation with youth. Folks spoke about issues in their communities and what governments can do to support youth employment, post-secondary education and food access beyond charity.
Teachings from the land
The history of residential schools and colonialism has caused irreparable harm and trauma in Indigenous communities. The loss continues to this day. It appears in the disruption of Indigenous food-ways and traditional practices, and is uniquely difficult for youth. That’s why we offered “Teachings from the Land: A Cross Cultural Food Justice Program.” Indigenous, racialized and settler youth gathered over the summer and fall, engaging with the Seven Sacred/Grandfather teachings. The group learned about themselves, the land and one another by connecting with respect, love, humility, wisdom, truth, courage and honesty. Gatherings focused on everything from decolonizing curriculum to foraging traditional medicines.
Read about the whole journey
Myth: people who are "overweight" are "unhealthy" Truth: you cannot tell someone's health status by looking at their body. That’s why we formed our Body Positivity Task Force. The group is working on FoodShare’s first ever Body Positivity Statement. To us, Body Positivity means that there is no wrong way to have a body. All bodies have the right to exist as they are. Many people, particularly those who identify as fat, racialized, trans, queer, gender non-conforming, or disabled, are most often told what they can and cannot do with their bodies. And it’s not benevolent. Health outcomes are negatively impacted not by body size, but by stigma, shame and the quality of healthcare given to different bodies. At FoodShare, doing food justice work from a body positive perspective means expanding food access options for all people without shame.
Advocacy for fair wages
Food insecurity is primarily an issue of income. So we were appalled to see, in late 2018, that the provincial government discontinued the planned increase to minimum wage. Rolling back the planned increase didn’t lift people out of poverty; it held them there. We challenged the Premier to live on $14/hr if that’s what he thought was enough. As an employer, FoodShare is aware of the costs associated with increases to minimum wage. We’re also aware of the costs associated with inaction. We proudly support a $15/hr minimum wage for our employees and recognize the benefits of doing so.
Our work doesn’t exist in isolation. We collaborate with long-term partners and funders to deepen our impacts and opportunities. Inspired by food justice, we now open conversations with them around anti-oppression frameworks. We encourage partners to implement their own frameworks while we implement anti-oppression tactics in our work.
Right to Food
Food banking and food charity may seem like a solution. But this response lets politicians pose for photos at food drives while ignoring our right to food. Redistributing grocery store leftovers and donating canned food will never end poverty. We invited Dr. Graham Riches to talk about the rise of food banks and how we can call for bold policy interventions that will actually address food insecurity.
What's your Right to Food dream?
Food justice means that folks eat foods that are true to their cultures and desires. But too often prescriptive diet guidelines ignore the special place food holds in our lives. The EAT-Lancet Commission proposed a new global diet in early 2019. One that could nurture human health and environmental sustainability. While we agreed with many of its points, we needed to call out what was gravely missing: political will to address inequitable access.
Canada’s Food Guide
Food justice means access to food you want. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for far too many in this country. Yet Canada’s new food guide was released in early 2019. It calls for a plate that’s full of vegetables and fruit. It calls for water being the drink of choice. It calls for cooking and eating with others. These are all very important. But how can we talk about Canada’s new food guide without talking about lack of access and inequality? The prescribed plate isn’t possible for the 4 million Canadians experiencing food insecurity. The drink of choice isn’t possible for communities without safe drinking water. People already know what’s healthy for them to eat. It’s access and affordability that makes the food guide unattainable for too many.
Read our response
A national school food program
Food justice means children shouldn’t have to worry about whether they will eat lunch or not. Yet Canada is one of the only industrialized countries without a national school food program. How can it be that students don’t have access to meals at school every day? This impacts their health, wellbeing, educational attainment and their futures. That’s why we supported The Coalition for Healthy School Food’s #NourishKidsNow campaign, calling for a national cost-shared Universal Healthy School Food Program.
Learn more about the Coalition
Good Food Box Revamp
Since 1994, our Good Food Box has been a programming mainstay. It all started with 40 boxes and grew to many more through the years. So too did the income levels of many of the people that were choosing to purchase it. We recognized that the Good Food Box was more of a social enterprise than a food access program, so we revamped it. Developing an online store and offering home delivery were essential next steps in the transition. Today, each box sold generates revenue for projects and programs that are focused on boosting food access for those experiencing the most food insecurity in our city. One thing has remained the same though – we pack each box full of delicious produce, and you can support FoodShare by getting one today.
Get a Good Food box
Supportive Partnerships Platform
Our Supportive Partnerships Platform continued partnering with communities and supporting grassroots groups. They are groups like Black Creek Community Farm, an awe-inspiring space where far more than food grows. You should sign up for their Harvest Share for a taste of how delicious food can be. They are groups like Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee, a group dedicated to bettering public space in their neighbourhood. You can see their work in action when you stop by their community market with a tandoor oven blazing and children at play.
Growing Good Food Markets
We moved into year three of Growing Good Food Markets in York South Weston. Feedback from the community tells us that Good Food Markets remain a special place where folks get way more than food. 87% of survey respondents agreed the market location makes it easier for them to buy fruits and vegetables. It’s harder to measure all the connections and moments of joy generated from the markets, but they are bountiful.
Good Food Machine
We launched our Good Food Machine e-learning platform. It’s pretty amazing what students and teachers grow in their classrooms with the Good Food Machine. And recognizing that we can’t animate classes outside Toronto, we built an e-learning platform. It’s all about educators connecting, learning and sharing knowledge to boost all that grows with food. The platform opens up how we help educators in places like Nunavut, northern Quebec, British Columbia and more. With support from LoyaltyOne.
See the Good Food Machine in action
Food insecurity isn’t really about food. It’s about income. That’s why we’re partnering with PROOF (an interdisciplinary research team at the University of Toronto investigating household food insecurity in Canada) and working on a Good Food Box prescription pilot at Rexdale Community Health Centre. What happens when a health centre prescribes the Good Food Box to its patients? We have a hunch and can’t wait to share the results with you.
21 young farmers employed via School Grown, 7600 lbs harvested
46 Good Food Markets supported
304,505 took the Great Big Crunch, making noise for a national school food program
208,766 kids reached through animating 826 student nutrition programs across the city
Thank you to everyone who supported FoodShare in 2018. We couldn't do it without you.
Photos by Sandro Pehar, Laura Berman, Alyssa Bistonath, Pam Lau and FoodShare staff. Note: In 2016, FoodShare worked with Eco-Ethonomics to develop a third-party verified impact calculator. Numbers in this annual report were generated through that calculator.
Printed audited financial statements are available upon request.
Paliare Roland Barristers, CAMH Foundation, Tippet Foundation, Whole Foods Market, The Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, Carolyn Cooper, Cathy J Richards Family and Friends and Dogs Foundation, Estate of Margaret Phillips, Jane Thorson, Karen Jones, Peter and Cathy Clark Family Foundation, Richard Willoughby, Taylor Irwin Family Fund, Wallace Seccombe