Eat It, Grow It, Share It

Group of people outside at Field to Table event

2000 to 2004 - Eat It, Grow It, Share It

Context

  • In 2001, in partial fulfillment of the Federal Government’s responsibility to report to the UN on its Action Plan for Food Security, a civil society gathering was hosted at Ryerson University. The conference was entitled “Working Together: Civil Society Input for Food Security in Canada” and brought together representatives of various civil society organizations and networks from every province and territory to develop strategies for increasing actions towards Canada’s commitment to Food Security both domestically and internationally. A meeting held after the last day of the conference organized by Mustafa Koc from Ryerson’s Centre for Studies in Food Security and Debbie Field from FoodShare discussed whether the movement was ready to build a national organization. The resolution, which led to the creation of Food Secure Canada in 2005, was passed unanimously.
  • The Food and Hunger Action Committee at the City of Toronto published two reports  ‘Planting the Seeds’ in 2000, and ‘The Growing Season’ in 2001 incorporating information gathered from community consultations, and an inventory of food and hunger-related initiatives in the City, showing “that Toronto has hundreds of food programs and initiatives, but that there is little consistency among programs and no overall co-ordination.”
  • The City of Toronto adopted Toronto’s Food Charter in 2001 and “Toronto City Council unanimously voted to become a food-secure city that would strive to ensure: the availability of a variety of foods at a reasonable cost, ready access to quality grocery stores, food service operations, or alternative food sources, sufficient personal income to buy adequate foods for each household member each day, the freedom to choose personally – and culturally-acceptable foods, legitimate confidence in the quality of the foods available, easy access to understandable, accurate information about food and nutrition, the assurance of a viable and sustainable food production system“
  • In 2003, the City released ‘Tending the Garden’ to report on progress and challenges since 2001’s ‘The Growing Season’ report. This collaborative work between the Food and Hunger Action Committee and other community groups within the City on these reports demonstrated the need and provided the basis for a more permanent grassroots food security coalition that would become the Food Justice Coalition.
  • Concerns regarding childhood obesity increased, and in 2004, Statistics Canada released findings on child and adolescent obesity which found that 29% of Canadians between 12 and 17 were overweight or obese, more than double the last nationally representative survey that was conducted in 1978. The same report found only 14% of children between 9 and 12 were eating the recommended four to six servings of vegetables and fruit a day.
  • Highly processed food and vending machines in elementary school cafeterias decreased as a result of public and government pressure, however middle and high schools were still saturated with junk food. The Toronto District School Board put out a Request for Proposals and signed a million dollar contracts with Pepsi to supply all pop, justice and water in all school vending machines. The contracts appealed to schools as revenues were shared between the service provider and the school to provide much needed cash for infrastructure like computers, library books, and uniforms. FoodShare opposed the Pepsi deal and argued against pop machines in schools.

Directions

  • FoodShare remained firm in seeking approaches that looked to the root causes of hunger, while proactively looking for, and then implementing solutions.
  • At the 2001 Working Together National Conference Debbie Field presented a talk on building a Local Food Security Movement. She discussed the value of a networked approach that would link organizations together as well as produce strategies that could gain the attention of government stating that “we need to understand that: hunger is created in a market economy where food is a commodity. All the diet related illnesses have a significant negative impact on the health system. We need to address the structural causes of the agricultural crisis in Canada.”
  • From within the food movement, a lack of leadership from a diversity of cultural groups was noticed in recognition that you can’t grow food without growing food justice. FoodShare drew attention to these issues through its role in the local Food Justice Coalition and at national Food meetings.
  • After years of policy development FoodShare launched the Eat it, Grow it, Share it Campaign in 2003 aimed to make food policy accessible. The campaign promoted a growing consciousness “about the importance of what and how we eat”, inviting participants to take action on ten key points that added up to putting food first. Some of the points included eating ten fruits and veggies a day, sharing meals, cooking together, growing food in your community, and composting.
  • In 2005, FoodShare’s Eastern Avenue location was threatened by a proposed Waterfront Redevelopment and the FoodShare began exploring options for to move to a new location.

 

Milestones

  • FoodShare continued its work in Urban Agriculture supporting 93 community gardens as a place for community building, environmental greening, health promotion and friendship weaving. Under the leadership of Lauren Baker, FoodShare’s large-scale rooftop farm continued to thrive, and the organization was recognized at the City’s Millennium Awards for this work in 2000. FoodShare also began selling produce grown through its gardens, and established the organizations third social enterprise in the area of urban agriculture.
  • The Sunshine Garden and Market was established at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in 2002. The Market sold items grown by CAMH participants in a 6000 square foot onsite garden. The project continues to help demonstrate the potential of urban agriculture and provide employment training for clients of CAMH.
  • In 2002, Foodshare partnered with Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre, Cancer Care Ontario, and the Ontario Breast Cancer Community Research Initiative to measure the effectiveness of the Good Food at Home for women active their active treatment for breast cancer program. The pilot project provided practical nutrition support to women in active treatment for breast cancer.
  • FoodShare piloted its Salad Bar program in 2002 in two primary schools where students had the choice of a regular cafeteria-style lunch, bring your own, or to eat from the salad bar offering a number of selections in four food groups—fruits, vegetables, grains and meats and alternatives.
  • In 2004 and 2005 the Toronto Partners for Student Nutrition received $3.5 million dollars of municipal funding which was then allocated directly to support mid morning student nutrition programs throughout the City.
  • In 2004 the Toronto Community Food Animators – a partnership between FoodShare, the Stop Community Food Centre, Second Harvest and African Food Basket – was established to facilitate enhanced emergency food programs, more community gardens and community kitchens. The group organized the first “Catalyst for Change Bus Tour” taking participants to community food projects and gardens across the City to demonstrate the impacts of this type of work.

Assets

Annual Revenue     Good Food Program Sales Catering Sales Urban Agriculture Sales
2000 $2,777,687 $774,991 $169,640 $30,659
2001 $2,643,886 $757,910 $195,496 $37,298
2002 $3,118,571 $831,412 $109,776 $32,575
2003 $3,527,672 $841,836 $137,754 $23,642
2004 $3,509.005 $913,620 $163,194 $12,588

 

Number of Staff

In 2000 there were 17 staff at FoodShare growing to 24 staff by 2004.

Location

FoodShare splits operations and programming between two locations in the City’s downtown, one in the west end at 238 Queen Street West, the other in the east end at 200 Eastern Avenue.

References

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