Melana Roberts believes inequity in our food system is one of the most pressing injustices in Toronto and Canada today. As Chair of the Council, Melana strives to advance youth engagement by developing tools and resources that empower equity-seeking groups to be the drivers of their own development. Supporting policy development in the office of City Councillor Joe Mihevc, Melana seeks to build an appetite for food in broader city planning and development initiatives. She holds an MA in Development Studies from York University, with a focus on Community Development, Agriculture and Community Health Systems, and has experience leading food security, health promotion, and public arts projects in Canada, Ecuador, Guyana, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. In her spare time, Melana sits as a Director on the Board of FoodShare, an advisory member on the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s National Youth Advisory Committee and is an Editor of From the Root Zine. She loves cooking, traveling and all things arts.
Tara Marina PearsonVice-Chair
Tara Marina Pearson is a Master’s student in Environmental Studies at York University passionate about Sustainable Food Systems, Social Justice, and storytelling. Over the course of her studies she has worked as an educator supporting public awareness campaigns for electronic and hazardous waste recycling, and program manager furthering public education efforts focused on the many connections between nutrition and mental health. At York, her research has focused on food waste, community stewarded food projects, and now storytelling. In her spare time Tara is also teaching herself to draw.
Sam Gawron is a graduate of the Environment, Sustainability, & Society and International Development programs at Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College. She grew up growing, cooking, and eating good food and has somehow managed to integrate this passion into everything she’s done since – from a consulting position with the Marine Stewardship Council, to the engagement of elementary school children in issues surrounding healthy and sustainable eating, to work with the Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre on their social enterprise cafe. When Sam isn’t at her current job at a sustainability education non-profit, she is probably cooking, or eating, or both.
Hilda Nouri believes that uncovering and acknowledging race and class inequities in the food system is vital for creating more sustainable and ethical ties with the food we eat. As a recent graduate from a MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies, she is particularly interested in the complex relationships that migrant workers, immigrants and diasporic communities hold with food. She has also completed a BA in Agricultural Sciences and International Development and has experience working on organic farms in Guelph and Guatemala and with urban agriculture in Montreal. Her other interests include learning languages, queer politics and acroyoga.
Alia Karim‘s interest in food derives from her experiences with community gardeners and small-holder farms in the Maritimes. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D Environmental Studies at York University as part of the Economics for the Anthropocene research group (http://e4a-net.org/). She is interested in food justice; ‘reclaiming’ the commons; guerrilla gardening, and alternative food production in Latin America, particularly intensive urban gardens (ie. organopónicos) in Cuba. Alia is honoured to return to the TYFPC for a second term where she will serve on the Advocacy Committee.
Janany Nagulan is a recent graduate of the Rural Planning and Development Program (MSc.) at the University of Guelph. Her researched focused on the effects of free trade agreements on the Canadian Dairy Industry. She has always been a lover of food however her passion for food issues and policy came from her work experience. Through her work she was able to see firsthand the issues of food access and food insecurity. She has worked on the analysis and evaluation of urban agriculture and food programs to help better serve the community in which they work. She also worked on projects regarding the scaling up of community garden to market gardens in low income areas. As an Advocacy Co-lead she is interested in advocating for not only food but the access for good quality and healthy food for low- income and vulnerable populations including youth.
Misha Shodjaee is from Montreal, where he completed a degree in Bioresource Engineering at McGill University. His passion for farming was cultivated during an internship in Cuba on Food Security and Urban Agriculture and flourished as he worked on an organic farm in the west island of Montreal. During and after his studies, Misha has been involved in the coordination of youth empowerment programs, working with diverse communities, organizing conferences, and implementing various environmental stewardship projects. He is looking forward to serving as an Advocacy Committee co-lead this year, learn more about the food movement in Toronto and contribute to the different spaces where youth can build capacity to contribute to a more sustainable future.
Ananda Mark is an interdisciplinary designer that has woven sustainable food practices into their practice. Their passion for food sovereignty comes from an obsession to demystify policy-making process around agriculture and supply chains. Ananda is a recent graduate of OCAD University for Industrial Design, and has spent time volunteering in food co-ops, doing field work on organic farms in Wuxi (China), exploring urban food issues in Scotland, and examining the intersection of open source technology and agriculture. Ananda can be found @katbinx or exploring the Don Valley.
Janika Oza is an educator with a passion for social justice, food security, and the relationship between food and diasporic/cultural identity. Over the past few years she has worked to support the education and wellbeing of communities through building community and school gardens, teaching garden-based nutrition and art programs, and incorporating food literacy into her work as an elementary school teacher. She currently leads an after-school program in one of Toronto’s most immigrant-populated neighbourhoods and is committed to improving cultural responsiveness and accessibility in urban food systems. As an Education Co-Lead, she is inspired to connect with and learn from those who are working to build a just and equitable food system in Toronto.
Dayna Stein believes strongly that healthy food should be a basic human right. Dayna recently graduated with a Master’s of Science in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability and received an award for her Thesis on food waste mitigation. Prior to, Dayna studied food security and sustainable food systems during her undergrad at UBC and honed her agro-ecological food growing skills at The Richmond Farm School. In her spare time she can be found cooking, drawing, and making her own body and home-care products. Dayna strives to support initiatives that create dignified food access for all and that empower people to move from consuming food as a good to being active participants in the growing, preparing, and sharing of food.
Emily McKenzieNetworking & Fundraising
Emily McKenzie grew up on a dairy farm in the Ottawa Valley, and started learning about the food system on the farm and from her parents and grandparents. She left her small community to go to university, where her passion for agriculture, community, and social justice were realized. While attending school for social work she participated in a service learning project to provide community kitchens to social service agencies. She continued volunteering in this capacity for two years. She also had the opportunity to work on a variety of community based projects with the Food Security Research Network in Thunder Bay. While pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Calgary she had the opportunity to complete a placement at the Regent Park Community Food Centre where she currently works as the food skills coordinator. Emily is still amazed at the power that food has to bring people together, and is ecstatic to work with the TYFPC this year to harness the power of food and the voices of youth to create change.
Spencer FowlieNetworking & Fundraising
Spencer Fowlie believes food literacy starts at home. He remembers his family teaching him how to grow tomatoes, and what to do with them in the kitchen. As an adult, his interest in the food systems (and tomatoes) blossomed at the Halifax Farmers’ market, where he managed a small, organic, bakery while completing a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science & International Development Studies from Dalhousie University. He has since applied his passion into environmental education outreach, leading food-skills workshops and developing urban agriculture policy with youth in Canada, Ghana and South Africa. As the Menu Coordinator at Real Food for Real Kids, he now helps enable and inspire healthy eating for 15 thousand kids and their families every day across the GTA.
Fateha HossainNetworking & Fundraising
Fateha Hossain is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) pursuing a Bachelors of Arts degree studying International Development, History and Food Studies. She joined the TYFPC to help strengthen the relationships between the Council and various food organizations to facilitate the great food justice work being done in Toronto. Previously, Fateha has worked on an ethical culinary tourism project called Scarborough A Little Taste (SALT), which seeks to explore the cultures, histories, and dishes that make them up some of Scarborough’s most prominent cuisines. Currently, she is working with 1LoveMalvern and the Culinaria Research Centre at UTSC to support their community development project support local residents starting their own food businesses. In her spare time, she loves sharing meals with friends, talking walks, and laughing at bad jokes.