April 18, 2014
by Andrew McAllister

Canada: A Seed Act for Farmers, Not Corporations

The Government of Canada is preparing to pass a new law, Bill C-18, the Agricultural Growth Act, that would give global seed corporations vast new power to control seeds – and to profit from them on the backs of farmers.

The National Farmers Union is working hard to stop this from happening. We support the NFU in their fight, and have signed the following letter in support of Canadian farmers:

We Support Canada’s Farmers

We stand with Canadian farmers in opposing measures that threaten farmers’ long-standing rights over seeds. Like family farmers around the world, Canadian farmers have a long tradition of selecting, saving and reusing their own seed as well as exchanging seeds with other farmers and buying from local seed growers. We believe that family farmers, not private institutions and corporations, can best conserve and enhance the genetic pool of plants, to feed people in an increasingly changing climate and environment while ensuring a resilient agriculture through cultivating seed diversity and adaptability.

We denounce the amendment of Canada’s Plant Breeders’ Rights Act (PBR) to conform with the UPOV ’91 Convention as proposed by the Growth Agricultural Act (Bill C-18) as it will result in a further privatization, uniformization and monopolization of seeds by PBR holder. While the latter benefit from the new right to collect royalties at various stages of the crop production, farmers will loose their historical right to seeds autonomy. Canada has no obligation under international trade agreements or treaties to conform with UPOV ’91.

We join our voice to the Canadian family farming movement and urge the Canadian government to respect and protect the rights of farmers and demand to:

  • Stop Bill C-18 and reject UPOV ’91.
  • Re-establish and increase funding for public plant breeding institutions and public researchers and resume public plant breeding to the variety level.
  • Reorient Canada’s agricultural laws towards the principles of Food Sovereignty – healthy food, ecological sustainability and democratic control.
  • Adopt a new Seed Law based on the NFU’s Principles for a Farmers’ Seed Act.

For more information or to learn what you can do to help Stop Bill C-18, visit the National Farmers Union website. The original version of this petition can be viewed on La Via Campesina.

April 14, 2014
by Caileigh McKnight

Global Youth Service Day Event

Yesterday was Global Youth Service Day (http://www.gysd.ca/) and the TYFPC was at City Hall for the second-annual Volunteer Fair. The amazing folks on the City Youth Council of Toronto (https://www.facebook.com/CYCToronto) hosted the event connecting youth with volunteer organizations from across the city. Over 30 organizations were present, offering different ways to engage in the community through volunteer opportunities. It was an amazing chance for TYFPC to meet youth interested in volunteering with us and to connect with other youth organizations. We made quite a few new friends at this event- stay tuned for some exciting new collaborations that transpired! And as always, if you are interested in getting more involved with us feel free to send an e-mail, follow us on facebook or twitter and come to one of our community events!



April 12, 2014
by Kaylen Fredrickson

Food & the Upcoming Municipal Election Project Update

We’ve been busy!

Thanks to those who joined our Youth in Food Politics Community Meeting, we had an awesome brainstorm session that has helped focus our goals for the upcoming municipal election project. We started with the three issues that arose as most important from our survey: food access, funding for community food organizations, and urban agriculture. Then we discussed what about these issues is particularly relevant to youth and to the upcoming election.

One theme that had a lot of supporting arguments was youth employment:

  • We are keen to see candidates talk about their thoughts and plans for decreasing precarious work, decreasing unpaid internships and increasing minimum wage.
  • We are also interested in how the municipal government can create opportunities for food businesses and projects, such as: access to land for growing, grants for food work, opening up or upgrading existing resources for additional purposes (such as integration of seed hubs in public libraries, and upgrading kitchens), using Section 37 to set aside money and space for food work.
  • In addition, we would the like the process for working with the city to be streamlined by: embedding a staff person dedicated to food and urban agriculture, clarifying processes for urban agriculture.

In regard to next steps, we had a discussion meet-up on Thursday, April 3 where we discussed the project moving forward and figured out that we want our role to include collating research (as opposed to doing very much primary research ourselves) and really focusing on youth civic engagement. Based on the feelers we’ve put out so far, it seems that we are still early to find other youth partners, but we’re keeping our ears to the ground for any opportunities to collaborate. We are also beginning to seek out resources that have evaluated municipal election candidates in the past and that are planning on evaluating them before this election. Our goal is to keep on top of candidate information that would be useful to youth voters and become a hub for that information.

In addition, stemming from our engagement with the food and the municipal election working group (recently organized by Toronto Food Policy Council and other interested parties), we would like to organize members of our community to attend community meetings and debates and to provide them with suggestions for questions to ask candidates. By attending sessions in small groups, we hope to break down barriers to civic engagement for youth. And the candidate responses to these questions can become part of the information that we share with our wider community. This is something we’ll discuss further in our engagement with the working group as well as at our next TYFPC municipal election discussion meet-up.

Our next discussion meet-up will be in May. Stay tuned here, as well as on Facebook and Twitter, for details.

If you would like to learn more about this project or get involved in anyway, please contact Kaylen, Advocacy Committee Co-lead, at kfredrickson@tyfpc.ca.

April 9, 2014
by Martina Marsic
1 Comment

Youth in Food Politics

April CM Poster_3.0Thank you to everyone who attended the April 2014 Toronto Youth Food Policy Community Meeting. This month’s topic was Youth in Food Politics and the discussion centred on what youth believe need to change in our food system, want supported by the City of Toronto, and practical ways to further these issues through politics. The meeting opened up with a presentation from Food Forward, who shared with us the build of their most recent campaign, Food Nation, which was followed by an introduction to the TYFPC Advocacy Toolkit (a practical guide to written & verbal communication with and deputations to the City) – available to all youth who are interested in engaging with politics in their areas to make change happen.

If you have any comments or questions, please email us at info@tyfpc.ca.

We are looking forward to seeing old and newcomers back out at the next one in early June.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive notice of upcoming meetings and events (See sidebar on the right).

TYFPC Community Meeting Minutes
Monday, April 7, 2014 6:00-8:00PM
Metro City Hall, Toronto

Thank you to all who attended the April 2014 Toronto Youth Food Policy Community Meeting! We are looking forward to seeing old and newcomers back out at the next one in early June. If you have any comments or questions regarding the meeting, please email us at info@tyfpc.ca. 

Presenting: Food Forward

A series of videos are shown on food justice in Toronto: the overarching issues and opinions of residents.

Putting together Food Nation: 5 platforms were decided on that will raise the standard on what the City is doing and facilitate discussion around it.

  1. Create opportunities to grow, cook, sell and buy fresh, healthy food in all neighbourhoods and in every major new housing development and neighbourhood plan.
  2. Reduce the number of Torontonians below the poverty line by the 2018 election by 40% or more.
  3. Create good food jobs for youth and marginalized communities. Increased employment through a Food Jobs Office that reduces barriers to good employment and entrepreneurship, supports and creates infrastructure.
  4. Increase the availability of fresh, healthy food in community food assistance programs. Create a sustainable fund for fresh food and infrastructure to prepare it.
  5. Listen to constituents to help them create healthy food opportunities and jobs in their neighbourhoods – Food Nation members will bring their local concerns and solutions to Council candidates.

Darcy asks for feedback on what the community thinks on these. Some thoughts from members:

  • Student nutrition program
  • Get municipal leaders to advocate for a national food policy
  • Decrease barriers to obtaining capital and land in order to startup local businesses and urban agriculture initiatives
  • Advocate for changing bylaws that prevent residents from having their own productive animals or growing food for market
  • Harmonized urban agriculture bylaw

Call out to join Food Nation (issue-based campaign) by endorsing, donating or volunteering at:
Tweet: #FoodNationTO @FoodNationTO
Facebook: www.facebook.com/FoodNationTO

The TYFPC Advocacy Toolkit

Built by the Advocacy Committee of the TYFPC to enable youth who want to get involved in the municipal elections and/or advocate for a sustainable and just food system in the city. One of the main things learned is that it is a lot easier to interact with the City than originally thought. What helps many people is having concrete examples (which the toolkit aims to provide in a general and practical manner), and the entertaining tactics (ukuleles, bringing free food, singing their speeches et al.) people take during a deputation in order to be heard.

Find the toolkit here: http://tyfpc.ca/resources/advocacy-tool-kit/

The toolkit covers three key areas:

  1. How to communicate with your city councillor.
  2. How to write to city officials.
  3. How to present a public deputation.

Youth-Food Politics Discussion Groups

One of our community members, Lucy, through her work with the TYFPC at the University of Toronto, she highlights the three main issues concerning Toronto youth in food that were uncovered through her research:

  1. Food access
  2. Urban agriculture
  3. Community access to support programs/funding

Everyone broke out into groups to parse through the three specific food issues mentioned above and engage in a discussion of what about: i) the issue needs to be changed; ii) what would you want the mayor to address in this particular issue; and iii) how would you want to advocate about these issues?

Food access

Things that need to change:

  • Precarious work (unreliable income, too little, contract too far apart)
  • Income inequality
  • Food access vs. healthy food access (i.e. food deserts)
  • Distribution (better access for farmers and foodmakers to markets)
  • Culturally-relevant foods
  • Protection of small stores/markets
  • Visibility/awareness/incorporating food in more aspects
  • Transit: getting to food retail outlets
  • Space/growth (urban ag)
  • Knowledge/food skills

What would you want the mayor to address?:

  • Support for alternative funding avenues
  • Mindset within government that food is a commodity to be taken care of by the market, rather than a basic human right
  • Social economic and physical supports

Community access to support programs/funding

Things that need to change:

  • Youth employment (meaning City policy to pay for interns; urban farming summer camp/full-time work; partnering with employment agencies)
  • Subsidies/resources for food businesses/projects (Food-focused government program; professional training ex. Food Handler certification)
  • Facilities
  • Incubator programs

What would you want the mayor to address?:

  • Allocate Parks and Recreation dollars to upgrade kitchens to industry standards so that they can be used by entrepreneurs, along with other existing infrastructure
  • Offer paid internships, amending policy against unpaid internships within Toronto Public Health
  • Embed food economics staff/program to encourage food businesses
  • City partnerships with employment centres to connected interested people to opportunities and resources

Urban agriculture

Things that need to change:

  • A growing/selling guide for city residents
  • Creating urban agriculture hubs to organize around the city so that they can provide resources and guidance for those interested in participating in urban agriculture
  • The idea of an Urban Agriculture Department of the City, composed of constituent parts
  • Lack of practical and advisory resources
  • Not limiting this to community gardens; so enabling social enterprises, small startups, community commercial initiatives
  • Changing bylaws
  • Education/information on processes and practices
  • More information on what currently exists (i.e. mapping)

What would you want the mayor to address?:

  • Personal engagement with food/food vision
  • Seed hubs in public libraries
  • Using Section 37 (City planning legal agreements) funds for food growing/food projects/green space
  • Enabling access to land
  • Why this isn’t a priority right now and how do we make it a priority?
  • Youth engagement funding/social enterprise capital for food startups and urban agriculture

070414_Community Meeting Minutes (View or download minutes at this link, in PDF format).


April 7, 2014
by MeShell

Oliver De Schutter’s Final Report on “The Transformative Potential of the Right to Food”

Olivier De Schutter’s final report as the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food: “The transformative potential of the right to food”

The report includes a summary of recommendations issued over the course of his mandate as Special Rapporteur (2008-2014), covering food price volatility, trade and investment in agriculture, regulating agribusiness, agrofuels, food aid and development cooperation, nutrition, social protection, women’s rights, Human Rights Impact Assessments, national strategies, agricultural workers, contract farming, small-holder farmers, agroecology, and the reinvestment in agriculture (www.globalpolicy.org).

Read the report here (pdf)