Do Not Destroy the Social Safety Net

2011 - Do Not Destroy the Social Safety Net

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 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 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.

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