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

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 

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

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:

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).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *