A Recipe for Change

Person standing inside bus wth food surrounding her.

2010 to 2014 - A Recipe for Change

Context

  • In 2010, Toronto Public Health published Cultivating Food Connections: Toward a Healthy and Sustainable Food System for Toronto, launching the work of the City’s Food Strategy. A key finding was “food desert” neighbourhoods in Toronto, with limited access to healthy food. The report recommended that “City staff establish or update City policies to expand access to healthy food through community gardens, allotment gardens, children’s gardens, bake ovens, farmers’ markets and fresh food markets”.
  • The Centre for Urban and Community Studies at the University of Toronto, released the first ‘Three Cities within Toronto’ report in 2010, detailing a shrinking middle class, and growing income inequality across Toronto between 1970-2005.
  • The City of Toronto adopted a Green Roofs Bylaw in 2010, requiring all new residential, commercial and institutional developments with a Gross Floor Area over 2,000 square metres to include a green roof.
  • The Toronto District School Board released a study in 2011 demonstrating a direct correlation between student nutrition and success at school. It was hoped that the findings would convince the Federal government of the benefits of a national framework to support school meals as an investment in the future of Canadians rather than a cost.
  • The City of Toronto established its Tower Renewal program in 2012, to improve and revitalize social, cultural, environmental, and economic conditions in the city’s dense apartment communities, where there were often high concentrations of low-income residents and newcomers, and also where many food deserts were located.
  • The number of community gardens in Toronto reached more than 225. The trend seemed to have two contributing factors: 1) an increased desire from citizens to become more connected to what they eat and confront some of the failures of the food system, and 2) an increasing number of newcomers who farmed in their native countries and wanted to continue to do so in Canada.
  • The Local Food Act (Bill 130) was passed by Provincial parliament in 2012.

Directions

  • In 2010, FoodShare urged the Federal government to play a more active role in childhood nutrition including funding for Student Nutrition Programs, and conducted research showing that: 85% of Canadians would support a federal/provincial universal meal program for school aged children across Canada, about 90% of children in Canada are not provided with a meal at school unless they bring it from home, 82% endorsed Food Literacy education in schools, 77% favoured banning fast food services from schools, and 66% favoured a ban on junk food advertising to children.
  • FoodShare opposed a proposal to the Federal government by economists from the Universities of Calgary and Toronto, which estimated that they would be able to save $39 billion annually if they eliminated the tax exemptions on expenses like medicine, financial services, tuition and food. Debbie Field warned that placing sales tax on essential life-based goods would form barriers to access.
  • Debbie Field presented policy recommendations to all three levels of government in 2010, and FoodShare released Put Food at the Top of the Municipal Agenda, highlighting innovative projects and the Municipal benefits of prioritizing food.
  • In 2011, the City of Toronto proposed 10% cuts of annual support for Student Nutrition Programs. A series of deputations, organized by FoodShare were given before City Council to help stop cuts to the programs.
  • After working with American community food organization Growing Power through the 2012 Urban Agriculture Summit, FoodShare began a strategic focus on Food Justice.

Milestones

  • FoodShare celebrated its 25th anniversary, and opened its on-site off the grid greenhouse in 2010.
  • FoodShare hosted its first annual Recipe For Change fundraiser in 2010, bringing together all star Toronto chefs for a night of culinary delights, local wine and beer in support of Food Literacy education and FoodShare’s work in schools.
  • FoodShare hosted its first annual Eat in Ontario fall harvest celebration in 2010, drawing 500 students to Queens Park and another 10,000 who participated across the Province.
  • In 2011, FoodShare became home to Toronto’s Urban Agriculture Learning Centre, a joint venture between FoodShare, MetroAg, and the Alliance for Urban Agriculture, containing more than 4,000 resources.
  • The Mobile Good Food Market was launched as a pilot project in 2012 through a partnership with Toronto Public Health, United Way, University of Toronto, and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, as a travelling Good Food Market reaching 6 communities in food deserts selected through community consultation in Toronto’s north east and north west end.
  • FoodShare partnered in organizing the first ever Urban Agriculture Summit at Ryerson University in partnership with Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and the Toronto Food Policy Council attracting more than 600 international delegates.
  • FoodShare released its first cookbook in November of 2012 share: Delicious Dishes from FoodShare and Friends bringing together 102 diverse community recipes and highlighting the joy of healthy cooking.
  • Invited in by community leaders, FoodShare began delivering food to the remote Fort Albany First Nation in James Bay in 2012, modelling that it is possible to get high quality affordable food to remote communities across Canada, and making its first departure from its Toronto service boundary, working in partnership with the Fort Albany Community Market organized by local community leaders,the Nishnawbe Aski Nation and True North Community Cooperative to explore expansion of this program to other First Nation communities.
  • The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter visited FoodShare during his cross Canada mission in 2012, and FoodShare presented statements on the Case for a National Student Nutrition Policy and Building the Public Food System in Canada
  • The Ontario Food Terminal opened its doors for the first time ever to the public in support of FoodShare in 2012 for Fresh Fest attracting more than 3,500 community members.
  • The first School Grown rooftop is opened, transforming 16,000 square feet at Eastdale Collegiate Institute.
  • Through a donation of a decommissioned Wheel Trans bus from the Toronto Transit Commission in 2013, the Mobile Good Food Market began to operate through all seasons in a newly retrofitted bus designed by Levitt Goodman Architects and renovated by Crew Chief Conversions.
  • Focus on Food employment programs ends as a result of funding cuts after 19 years of operation in 2014.
  • The Good Food Café healthy school cafeteria continues to expand into 3 public schools.

Assets

Annual Revenues Good Food Sales  Catering Sales  
2010 $5,664,050 $1,683,509 $206,595
2011 $5,609,533 $1,756,186 $231,359
2012 $5,955,990 $1,775,302 $238,196
2013 $6,391,274 $1,907,290 $320,133
2014

 

Number of Staff

In 2010 there were approximately 55 full-time staff in FoodShare, and 45 by 2014.

Location

FoodShare’s Hub at 90 Croatia Street operated at capacity, and the organization began exploring options for new facilities to relocate by 2016.

References

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