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Past Event: Feeding the City Webinar: Urban Agriculture, School and Community Food Programs

How have individuals’ and families’ food-related activities changed as a result of COVID-19, particularly in light of school closures and rising food insecurity? How can urban growing and government- and community-level initiatives help build a resilient food system? Join the Feeding the City team from Tkaronto (Toronto) as we hear from three experts on these questions:

Rhonda Teitel-Payne is the Co-coordinator of Toronto Urban Growers (TUG). She has been active for over 20 years with programs such as The Stop Community Food Centre, Toronto Community Garden Network, and the World Crops project.

Debbie Field is the Coordinator of the Coalition for Healthy School Food and Associate Member, Centre for Studies in Food Security, at Ryerson University. She was the Executive Director of FoodShare for 25 years.

Utcha Sawyers is the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of East Scarborough. She was an inaugural member of Food Secure Canada’s Board of Directors (2013-2017), and is an international Food Justice, Equity & Access consultant and advocate.

Moderated by Jayeeta (Jo) Sharma and Sarah Elton. Jo is an Associate Professor of History and Food Studies at the Culinaria Research Centre of the University of Toronto, and the Project Lead for Feeding the City. Sarah is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Ryerson University, and the author of several award-winning popular books on urban food systems. Supported by the Culinaria Research Centre, University of Toronto Scarborough

World Food Day Highlight: Centering Justice in Canada’s Food System By Madeleine Frechette

October 16, 2020 was World Food Day, an annual event established by the United Nations with the aim of increasing awareness of various food issues facing the global community, such as world hunger and poverty, and inspiring strategies for the betterment of the global food system and solutions for lasting change. Unlike previous World Food Days, this year we had the opportunity to reflect on the extensive and far-reaching impacts that COVID-19 has had on food systems in Canada and abroad. To celebrate this monumental World Food Day, and to highlight the impacts of COVID-19 on the Canadian food system, the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems hosted the webinar Centering Justice in Canada’s Food System. This webinar explored various challenges and inequities within the food system that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, with a particular focus on the disproportionate impacts that COVID-19 has had on BIPOC communities and migrant agricultural workers across the country. 

The webinar was moderated by Alison Blay-Palmer, Director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and UNESCO Chair on Food, Biodiversity, and Sustainability Studies. Among the webinar speakers were Gabriel Allahdua from Justice for Migrant Workers, Janet McLaughlin from the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University, Melana Roberts from Food Secure Canada and the Toronto Food Policy Council, and Stephanie Morningstar from the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust. The speakers discussed how food system inequities have been exacerbated by COVID-19, as well as the impacts of the pandemic on their own work. They also suggested various strategies for collaboration among various actors and interest groups to create a just, representative, and equitable food system. 

The speakers engaged in a productive and insightful conversation regarding the state of the Canadian food system. Regarding the experiences of Black Canadians amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Melana Roberts emphasized the importance of bringing forward underrepresented racialized voices that have been silenced in the food system. In highlighting these silenced voices, we may cultivate diversity within the systems of knowledge, governance, and growing that are present within the Canadian food system. In doing so, we may shift the disproportionate

impacts of various food system inequities and disparities away from vulnerable populations, and instead support community building and economic revitalization in local capacities. Stephanie Morningstar further discussed these inequities present within the food system, as experienced by Indigenous farmers and within Indigenous communities. They emphasized that Indigenous nations across the country have been robbed of their traditional foodways and denied equal access to the land, money, and infrastructure needed to thrive within the agricultural sector. Going forward, attention must be placed on repairing relationships with Indigenous nations, so as to build networks of solidarity that may allow communities to heal from disparities in land and food access.

Gabriel Allahdua and Janet McLaughlin further discussed inequities within the Canadian food system, specifically with regard to the treatment of migrant agricultural workers. Gabriel thoroughly critiqued the programs which bring migrant workers into the country, including the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. These programs allow for gross human rights abuses against migrant workers, who are alienated, exploited, and silenced by their employers and the Canadian government. He condemned these injustices experienced by migrant workers across the country, which have been enshrined into Canadian law. Janet further explored these injustices as they have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. She explained that workers have not been adequately protected from the health and safety risks associated with the agricultural field, and have been exposed to structural restraints that render them disposable and interchangeable despite their integral role in the Canadian food system.

Following a thorough examination of various disparities across the Canadian food landscape, as experienced by BIPOC communities and migrant agricultural workers, the presenters suggested various strategies that could be employed to create an equitable and representative food system following the COVID-19 pandemic. Melana Roberts asserted that COVID-19 has enabled the global community to recognize the food system inequities which existed prior to the pandemic, and has provided an opportunity for said inequities to be addressed in a way that increases resilience. Stephanie Morningstar urged that independent BIPOC farmers must be supported in their journeys of sustainable food production. Gabriel Allahdua and Janet

McLaughlin both demanded that migrant workers be granted full status, labour rights, and protections upon arrival to Canada, and urged that the essential labour of migrant agricultural workers be recognized and valued rather than ignored.

The moment that we have found ourselves in, as Canadians and members of the global community, is unprecedented. In this moment we have the opportunity to rethink our food landscape, and to recognize who does, and who does not, have a seat at the table. We can reflect on the actors that currently govern our food system and amend relationships in a way that honours the diverse perspectives present within our country, that consider what food should be grown, where it should be grown, and how it should be shared. It is imperative that this opportunity be seized in Canada, so as to ensure the creation of an equitable food system that actively supports the health and welfare of everyone who lives here.

WEBINAR – Feeding the City, Pandemic and Beyond: Voices from Local Grocery Stores and Public Markets in a Diverse City

ONLINE – Feeding the City, Pandemic and Beyond: Voices from Local Grocery Stores and Public Markets in a Diverse City

Wed, 28 October 2020 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT  | REGISTRATION REQUIRED via EventBrite

How have local markets and grocery stores pivoted in the time of COVID-19 to continue feeding their communities? How can these local businesses help build a resilient food system in a diverse city? What new challenges and opportunities lay ahead? Join us from Tkaronto (Toronto) for an interactive roundtable featuring:

Mario Masellis – Mario is a second-generation Italian-Canadian grocer. He and his family own Masellis, a grocery store that has operated at the same Toronto location since 1959. Each week, they deal with more than twenty-five small producers, and are locally renowned for making heritage foods, such as their own Italian sausage, and for personalized customer advice on everything from cheese to rosemary plants.

Ran Goel – Ran is founder and CEO of Fresh City Farms. He describes the business as a “values driven company” which aims to source locally and organically whenever possible, and to operate sustainably with minimal environmental impact and high labour standards. They grow a portion of their produce at their urban farm, while the remainder of their products are sourced from Southern Ontario and abroad.

Marina Queirolo – Marina is a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council, and previously managed food programs at the Evergreen Brickworks where she created a suite of programs to promote food literacy, community development, local entrepreneurship, and placemaking. When she first moved to Canada from Argentina, she was renowned for her sûrkl empanadas that sold at fine food shops and farmers markets.

Jointly moderated by Jayeeta (Jo) Sharma, Associate Professor of History and Food Studies at the Culinaria Research Centre of the University of Toronto, and Project Lead for Feeding the City; and Jaclyn Rohel, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Culinaria Research Centre.

Supported by the Culinaria Research Centre, University of Toronto Scarborough.

www.FeedingCity.orgRegister here.

Event: Indigenous Perspectives: The Place of Canada in Canadian Food Studies and Food Systems by CAFS

by Canadian Association for Food Studies (CAFS)

Join us for this webinar featuring important Indigenous food scholars, activists, and thinkers as they share what ‘Canada’ means to them and their food systems work. The panelists include Dawn Morrison, James Whetung, and Dr. Clifford AtleoTabitha Robin will moderate the discussion. 

As our association reckons with the sustained systemic racism and ongoing state violence waged disproportionately against racialized, Black and Indigenous people, we are committed to learning to better work within an anti-racism paradigm, as outlined in our recent public statement. As food scholars, educators, and activists, we have a collective responsibility to acknowledge these truths and work to actively confront and challenge them through research, teaching, critical analysis, and collective action. We also need to look inward. Recently, some CAFS members have questioned the use of “Canadian” in the names of both our association and journal (Canadian Food Studies/La Revue canadienne des études sur l’alimentation). We have had discussions internally, but it is equally important to provide a platform to have these discussions publicly. This webinar series was put together to help frame this reflection, and to start us off on the right path.

Please join us Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 12:00 pm PT / 3:00 pm ET (1:00 pm MT / 2:00 pm CT / 4:00 pm AT / 4:30 pm NT). Registration via Eventbrite is required. Confirmed participants will be sent a Zoom link.


This webinar kicks off a series of CAFS Webinars, designed to engage the CAFS on a broad range of food-related issues. The next one will take place on November 19, 2020—a conversation between Dr. Kelly Bronson and Dr. Michael Carolan, probing the complexities within the rise of digital agriculture.

Event: From the Front Line: The impact of COVID-19 on food security in our community and how we responded: Who? What? How? By Trent University

Join local food system leaders and Trent University researchers as we shed light on the impact of the first six months of the pandemic on our community and on the initiatives that feed us.

Find out first-hand how front-line leaders have responded to the crisis so far.

Hear from local leaders about the challenges ahead, and how we can build a more resilient food system that can continue to feed our entire community in the months and years ahead.

Featuring:
Joëlle Favreau –  Nourish/YWCA Peterborough Haliburton
Lauren Kennedy – Peterborough Public Health
Pat Learmonth – Farms at Work
Lori Sainte – Peterborough Gleans

When: Thursday, October 15
           1:00pm – 1:45pm (formal presentation) 

1:45pm – 2:30pm (discussion and strategy) 


Where: Virtually or by phone

Registration is required through EventBrite<https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/from-the-front-line-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-peterboroughs-food-system-tickets-122309122879>

This webinar is supported by Grow Change, a community-campus enterprise dedicated to realizing a more sustainable and just local food system. trentu.ca/growchange   

Events: Fall Field Day Series By the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario

The month of October is full of amazing events an learning moments available from the Ecolological Farmers Association of Ontario and is dedicated to developing skills in sustainable agriculture and showcasing life on sustainable farms. These events are greatly beneficial to those who are interested in farming, gardening and sustainable agriculture.

There are a few great events going of in this list including numerous virtual field days. For those of those interested in learning more you can read below or click the link here to find out more.

Events coming up this month with the EFAO:

Virtual Field Day
Regenerative Agriculture on Diversified Farms
Oct 13   $5
Online via Zoom
Join us for virtual tours of two diversified organic farms employing regenerative practices.Manorun Organic Farm is a 25 acre family run farm near Dundas, producing vegetables, herbs, pasture raised livestock, grain and hay. Sideroad Farm in Walter’s Falls produces Certified Organic vegetables, cut flowers and pasture-raised chickens and eggs. This event is offered in partnership with the Organic Council of Ontario as part of the Fall Field Day Series.

Learn more & register
Virtual Field Day
Regenerative Dairy
Oct 15   $5
Online via Zoom

Learn about regenerative dairy from Upper Canada Creamery, a certified organic farm that produces grass-fed dairy products including milk, yogurt and cheese, with unique management approaches including a rotary dairy system, strip grazing, water conservation and more. Owner and operator Joshua Biemond will give participants an in-depth look at the processes and practices employed by this unique dairy farm. This event is offered in partnership with the Organic Council of Ontario and the Canadian Organic Growers as part of the Fall Field Day Series.

Learn more & register
Virtual Field Day
Artisanal Livestock
Oct 14    $5-10
Online via Zoom

Thinking of including livestock in your operation? You won’t want to miss this virtual tour of Meeting Place Organic Farm! Second-generation farmer Katrina McQuail will share the ins and outs of raising small-scale, artisanal livestock.
This event is offered as part of the Ignatius Farm New Farmer Training Program and in partnership with CRAFT SW ON.

 Learn more & register
Virtual Field Day
Collaborative Farm Sales
Oct 20   $5
Online via Zoom

Green Circle Food Hub was formed by farmers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kendal Hills Farm serves as the collection point and in collaboration with other local farms, coordinates the distribution of farm products directly to consumers. Participants will view a pre-recorded tour of Kendal Hills Farm and learn about the founding and daily operations of Green Circle Food Hub. Farmers from Kendal Hills Farm and Lunar Rhythm Gardens, who sell through the hub, will join the live discussion session.

This event is offered in partnership with the Organic Council of Ontario as part of the Fall Field Day Series.

Learn more & register

Article Highlight: Canada’s Food Price Report 2020 – Faculty of Management – Dalhousie University

This annual report by Dalhousie University has come up with some new figures and information in regards to the trajectory of food prices within the nation. It is a great source of information as we get to see major issues affecting food pathways as well as the ways in which the cost of food has slowly been rising.

Canada’s Food Price Report marks 10 years of helping consumers understand their annual grocery bill

Canada’s Food Price Report 2020 is released jointly by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph. Predictions are made using historical data sources, machine learning algorithms, and predictive analytics tools developed over many years.”

2020 report forecasts 2 to 4% increase in food prices for Canadian families

Overall the report is an important piece of information to better understand the current trajectory of food costs in the nation.

To download a copy of the report please click here

Highlight: BLACK FOODIE Week Panel: The Future of Black Food Culture

This week is a special week in the city with Black Foodie Week going on right now!

It is a showcase of some of the city’s best Black Cuisine and Black owned Restaurants. Click the link below to find out more:

Black Foodie Week: https://blackfoodie.co/black-foodie-week/

This event has also showcased a large part of the issues that have been affecting the Black community as a whole and the ways in which we as a society must choose to move forward together. One such event was the live Panel discussion.


BLACK FOODIE Week Panel: The Future of Black Food Culture

The speakers come from various walks of life show different perspectives on how the Black Community is choosing to move forward.

Panel discussion organized by Eden Hagos for Black Foodie Week:

featuring Leticia Daewuo (Black Creek Farms),

Paul Taylor (FoodShareTO),

and

Chef Bashir Munye (George Brown College)

Key notes:

  • The Pandemic and the effects on the Black community
  • The importance of Food Security in priority Neighbourhoods
  • The importance of visibility as a community.

Click this link to watch the full panel below:

BLACK FOODIE Week Panel: The Future of Black Food Culture

Also check out: https://www.blackfoodie.co/ for more information on Black Cuisine and Black food history

Article Highlight: Food Insecurity Is Associated With Higher Health Care Use And Costs Among Canadian Adults by PROOF

The PROOF (Food Insecurity Policy Research) team’s important new publication analyses how compared with fully food-secure adults, marginally, moderately, and severely food-insecure adults presented 26 percent, 41 percent, and 69 percent higher odds of acute care admission and 15 percent, 15 percent, and 24 percent higher odds of having same-day surgery, respectively. Conditional on acute care admission, food-insecure adults stayed from 1.48 to 2.08 more days in the hospital and incurred $400–$565 more per person-year in acute care costs than their food-secure counterparts, with this excess cost representing 4.4 percent of total acute care costs.

Read by clicking this link here

A Food Network Response to COVID-19 in Peterborough by The Trent University Team

On March 19, two days after Premier Ford declared a state of emergency for Ontario, a ‘new’ food network emerged in Peterborough. It developed out of the Peterborough Food Action Network (PFAN) which, for 13 years, has promoted community food security in Peterborough City, County, and local First Nations. Maintaining the vision that “everyone in Peterborough City and County will have enough healthy food to eat as part of a long-term food security strategy,” PFAN has always welcomed anyone interested in food issues who supports PFAN’s purpose and its work to address food insecurity and promote healthy and local food. Over time, PFAN has tried to steadily increase its focus on addressing food insecurity’s roots, particularly income insecurity. However, at that point in March, PFAN could not proceed with business as usual because of physical distancing regulations, the redeployment of its vital public health representatives, and the scrambling of its members to meet the needs of their own programs, organizations, and personal circles. 

Prior to the pandemic, food insecurity was already an issue for the regions served by Peterborough Public Health. In fact, 16% of local households were food insecure in 2011-2014 compared to 12% across Ontario. Furthermore, the numbers of food-insecure households with children under 18 and food-insecure households led by female lone parents were both about twice the provincial average. A staggering half of female lone parent households were food insecure. The start of the pandemic and the realization that many vulnerable community members lacked the resources to stockpile food only reinforced for PFAN members the need to take an equity approach to food insecurity. 

In response, Peterborough Public Health (PPH) led this network pivot and has been coordinating the new network ever since. PFAN switched from bi-monthly in-person meetings chaired by the local medical officer of health to bi-weekly (and later, monthly) meetings by phone (and later, online) facilitated by one of PPH’s registered dietitians. The group’s purpose has been “to bring organizations and community advocates together, who are concerned about food access for vulnerable populations. The hope is to better understand current concerns, needs, and resources” (March 19 meeting notes). The priority has been to slow the spread of COVID-19 while working together to understand and address growing food insecurity among vulnerable populations. In addition to Public Health, these new COVID-19 and Food Access for Vulnerable Populations network meetings have involved groups working in the City, County, and local First Nations, and have included: food banks; meal programs; student nutrition programs; Social Services; Trent University; Community Care; food literacy, food growing, and gleaning programs; Income Security Peterborough; and community members/advocates with lived experience of poverty and marginality. While many members had already participated on PFAN, a key difference has been the presence of more food banks at the new virtual table and a greater integration of needs from  emergency food provision in conjunction with advocacy for long-term solutions to food insecurity.

Early on, the network developed three working subgroups: food access for people without stable housing or kitchen access; food access for those with stable housing and kitchen access; and advocacy regarding the roots of food insecurity and poverty (now and beyond COVID-19). Later, the new network decided to shift from formed subgroups to ad hoc groups to work on specific projects as they arose. 

From March to August, a variety of themes emerged. Unsurprisingly, a sense of unpredictability developed as the pandemic became a reality. Network members were not alone in wondering about its trajectory, impact, and duration. Moreover, they wondered what might happen to the community’s food supply and food access for vulnerable people. Members tried to assess the implications of seeing demand for their programs shift, usually upward but sometimes downward. They recognized that circumstances (e.g. food shortages), regulations (e.g. provincial, municipal, and public health directives), and responses (e.g. program closures/changes, government supports) were changing quickly and that, as such, agility and flexibility would be necessary. More recently, uncertainty has extended to the implications that upcoming school re-openings and a possible second wave of the virus may have on food access.

Network discussions have revealed how COIVD-19 is compounding the struggles of already-vulnerable people. For example, physical distancing and safe hygiene practices have been challenging for people who were already homeless or precariously housed. Healthy eating has become more difficult for those who already faced challenges leaving their homes to acquire food. Those without working phones, computers, or internet have experienced the physical, mental, and emotional effects of being shut out of communications and connections — especially as programs closed or transitioned to lower-contact options. Not only has there been a realization of needs beyond food (like water, PPE, hygiene items, and mental health supports), but also of the need to balance the risk of COVID-19 with other health risks by looking, for instance, at both the protective and damaging impacts of social isolation.

Regarding program operations, the importance of volunteers has been revealed. Procedures to reduce social interactions along with the health-related decisions of many volunteers to temporarily disengage have left many organizations more short-handed than before. It has become clear that much of the volunteer workforce experiences added vulnerability to the virus, particularly as seniors. Member organizations have needed to strategize around ways to continue operating if active workers become sick. At the same time, many community members have been eager to contribute to food access efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is little doubt that local food access has benefitted from the efforts of the COVID-19 and Food Access for Vulnerable Populations network. Its members have brainstormed over shared challenges and facilitated connections between vulnerable people and needed supports/resources. They have exchanged opportunities for funding, food access, volunteer pools, as well as health and community information resources (such as mental health resources and links to broader food systems initiatives). The network has also stayed true to its advocacy roots by: writing letters to relevant politicians regarding new provincially funded emergency benefits; advocating for a Basic Income Guarantee; and participating in the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy consultation and City of Peterborough budget consultation. In addition, network discussions prompted a Trent University research project, From Crisis to Continuity: A community response to local food systems challenges in, and beyond, the days of COVID-19, exploring local food-related impacts from and responses to the pandemic. It has currently surveyed about 25 organizations providing food supports and about 300 members of the local community.

Peterborough provides an example from a smaller city-region food system of the resilience that can develop when communities can maintain strong networks and the commitment of a range of not-for-profit and institutional actors to addressing food insecurity. Investing in social capital and shared principles over the years has placed Peterborough in a better position for identifying needs and responding to crises like COVID-19.