Food Justice & Anti-Oppression Training for the Food Movement

February Community meeting. anti-oppressionThank you to all who attended the February 2014 Toronto Youth Food Policy Community Meeting! The discussion surrounding equity and food justice was diverse, informative and thought-provoking. We hope you found the workshop and discussion valuable to your work and perspectives. Thank you to our discussion leaders, Tinashe Kanengoni of Seed to Table, and Ruby Lam and Domenico Calla of Toronto Public Health.

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 April.

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TYFPC Community Meeting Minutes
Monday, February 3, 2014 6:00-8:00PM
Metro City Hall, Toronto

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

Committee Updates


  • Collecting info about which topics you want to know about.
  • Toolkit in partnership with Food Forward, consisting of practical guides how to contact your city councilor, make a public deputation, hosting upcoming workshops for the community.


  • Selected submitted works for inclusion into the upcoming TYFPC Journal.
  • These are currently being peer-reviewed.


  • Ryerson University Community Food Room: Food Fair is taking place Wednesday, February 5th from 11:00AM-4:00PM. You can view the event here.
  • Working with youth to educate them and interest them in the food movement.
  • Working around policies (especially, accessibility) to frame the work of the Network committee.


As mentioned in last months newsletter our event calendar is now live. For all food-related movement events (+ details) happening in Toronto please check back whenever you are interested – we are trying to keep this updated at least 1 month in advance.

Introduction to Meeting

Jessica Reeve: Today the TYFPC is aiming to provide an open and committed space to speak about equity, recognizing access, oppression in the food movement (systemic, ad hoc, obvious and nonobvious).
Andrew McAllister: The Network committee is currently crafting the accessibility statement – any questions can be directed to the council members and feedback is
much appreciated. Working draft:

Equity Statement

Creating equitable and inclusive environments free from harassment and discrimination shall be a priority in all events and meetings of the Toronto Youth Food
Policy Council (TYFPC). It is our collective responsibility as a council to ensure that discrimination in all its forms will not be tolerated and that we continue to work towards
a world free of oppression by fulfilling our equity policy.

It the policy of TYFPC to include this document on our website, continually refer to it’s principles and read it aloud during the opening address of all meetings and events to establish a safe and inclusive space:

Solidarity within the food movement is based on the principle that all members are equal and deserve mutual respect and understanding. We recognize that there are social and structural barriers that create obstacles and prevent equal treatment of people on the basis of their religion, race, gender, sexuality, age, income, or ability, and our work as members of the Toronto food movement aims to challenge all forms of discrimination on both an individual and institutional level.

As members of the TYFPC, mutual respect, cooperation and understanding are our goals. As such, we will neither condone nor tolerate behavior that undermines the dignity or self-esteem of any individual or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. Discriminatory speech or conduct that is discriminatory or hurtful will only divide us. Sometimes discrimination takes the form of harassment. Harassment means using real or perceived power to abuse, devalue or humiliate.

Discrimination and harassment focus on characteristics that make us different and they reduce the capacity to work together on shared concerns such as safe and equitable learning environments, justice in our communities, institutions and society and the overall creation of a sustainable food system. By adhering to these guidelines and principles we may achieve a safe and equitable space allowing us to work together to achieve a just and sustainable food system for all.

Tinashe Tanengoni: From his own personal experience, and what he has learned and absorbed for the meaning of “food justice”, the definition is ambiguous. It does not stand in isolation and can be any number of things for different people. For Tinashe, it starts off with the concept of hunger. Hunger leads to the concept of food security. This latter concept is governed by the concept of 5As: Availability, Affordability, Acceptability, Adequacy, and Agency. It becomes a question of asset-mapping: what is around you? Can you get on the subway? Are there any grocery retail locations near you? This changes the way we see things. We understand that there is tension between the question of conditions and the question of reality. Which leads us to seeing that food justice is fundamentally centered on the concept of food sovereignty: the right to food – healthy food.

This can be extended to the right to produce food (as well as the right to seeds and saving your own seeds). Being born in Zimbabwe, Tinashe’s family was constantly exposed to issues of land rights and ownership in his community. This type of lens can vary with the unique experiences/passions of each person. This is paired with previous work experience, which in the case for Tinashe was business and accounting. His interest in the nonprofit, particularly food, sector rose. He emphasizes that it is important to highlight and incite action around our different lenses, because it means that we will all approach food issues from different backgrounds and with different skills, which is important to handling complex and multifaceted issues, such as what is the current state of the food system.

Working at Lawrence Heights, Tinashe worked on projects around youth employment and youth engagement. There were many different types of programs available: cooking programs, farmer’s market, youth employment programs et al. Each was approached with a different lens in order to achieve greater scope. This is important for building greater capacity around issue identification, skills, project management processes and evaluation.


Ruby Lam begins with a mental exercise to help us examine the things that allow us to “take a step forward” and “take a step back” and helped to visualize the inequalities many people face. Ruby alternated between “forward” statements and “back” statements as we mentally took steps in each direction.

Take a step forward if:

  • you were born healthy
  • you wouldn’t look in the classifieds if you needed a job
  • you can buy organic foods
  • as a child your family owned rather than rented
  • you can eat in public without feeling judged
  • you never had to use someone else’s address to apply for a job
  • you’ve never used a food bank
  • most people you meet can pronounce your name properly
  • Canada’s food guidelines include images of your cultural food

Take a step back if:

  • it takes you more than half an hour to get to a grocery store
  • you’ve gone without food so another family member could eat
  • your cultural food has been the target of ridicule
  • your livelihood is threatened by climate change
  • your school cafeteria did not meet you dietary needs
  • you have had to lie about your family to avoid ridicule
  • you are not able to talk openly about how you spent your weekend.

Passing out a case study (which you can see in the attached PDF), which depicts three situations in which common issues of oppression and sensitivity are raised in (formal/informal) organizations. Ruby and Domenico facilitate the management of these situations.

Ruby Lam: Ruby’s and Domenico’s aim for this session was to get everyone in the headspace of what is oppression, and what it looks like for communities who are experiencing oppression and are dealing with these types of similar situations. Ruby wants everyone to collectively envision a food system that is more inclusive. This system will look and function differently within each community, but the conversation will focus around universal dimensions.

030214_Community Meeting Minutes (View/download minutes at this link, in PDF format).

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