Melana 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.
Hilda 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. She currently coordinates community garden and kitchen programs for immigrants and newcomers in Scarborough in hopes of creating a spaces where uprooted communities can connect with food. She holds an MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies and a BA in Agricultural Sciences and International Development, leading her to be particularly interested in complex relationships that migrant workers, immigrants and diasporic communities hold with food. She 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.
Spencer 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 food 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.
Emily TrimbleCommunications Lead
Emily is a recent graduate with a BA in Specialized Urban Planning and a minor in Sustainability Studies from Concordia University. While at Concordia, Emily became involved in the food movement happening on campus by joining organizations, student groups, and projects that worked towards creating a more sustainable and just food system on campus.
Over the course of her studies, Emily worked at her university’s rooftop greenhouse to grow fresh produce, sat on the Board of Directors, made lattés for a student-run café, and worked on graphic design projects to help support accessibility and public awareness about food on around campus. In doing so, Emily realized her passion for urban agriculture and the importance of community lead decision-making and action. She is interested in the role that cities play in creating space for urban agriculture and resilient food systems.
Merryn MaynardCommunications - Fundraising & Evaluation Liaison
Merryn first became engaged with food systems while volunteering at food banks in Hamilton’s north end and spending summers working on a family farm in Nova Scotia. A recent graduate of the School of Public Health and Health Systems (MSc.) at the University of Waterloo, she transferred her experiences researching student food insecurity to her current role as Programs and Operations Coordinator at Meal Exchange, where she works with postsecondary students to address food issues on their campuses. In her spare time, Merryn represents Food Secure Canada’s Youth Caucus as a regional champion, explores Toronto by bike, and knits cozy blankets. She is excited by healthy public policies that address food access and inequities among youth and young people, and is excited to put her research skills to use as a fundraising and evaluation co-lead.
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.
Mahin considers food a dear friend and an ever-giving mentor in her life. Through food, Mahin continues to find deep understanding in her Indian heritage, foster meaningful relationships with community, detangle from colonial and capitalist ways of being, and explore the spirituality in all living beings. Mahin has a BSc. in Sustainable Food Systems from UBC, but knows that most of her food knowledge comes from outside the classroom. She spent the past 4 years participating in the Vancouver food communities by farming in reclaimed urban spaces, facilitating youth food justice programming, and co-creating a food stories project in a student garden at UBC. She has experienced how food sovereignty feeds the wellbeing of culture, spirituality, and the earth from spending time with the Quechua in Peru, the Haida in Haida Gwaii, the Chewa in Malawi, and through her Indian roots. She is excited to build strong relationships with BIPOC youth, to decolonize the way we engage with food, and to find ways to celebrate food, health, and our earth. Catch her gawking at flowers, striking a yoga pose, or fermenting the trendiest vegetable when she’s not eating or talking about food
Ayesha grew up in Parkdale-High Park, an area in the west of Toronto that has seen a lot of changes. Having witnessed the ongoing gentrification in her own neighbourhood has made Ayesha deeply interested in issues of equity. This, along with her passion for travel, has given her a greater insight into issues related to housing, labour, and food – as they affect locals, immigrants, migrant labourers, and refugees.
Ayesha is a recent graduate of McGill University’s International Development Studies program, with a focus on culture and society. She works in community development in Toronto, and interned at a food-based social enterprise in Mumbai, India, and is grateful to have had the opportunity to visit some inspiring NGOs in India. She enjoys yoga in the park, browsing at bookstores, film festivals, and farmers’ markets.
Ananda 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.
Elise is a social worker, poet, and zine-maker who understands food as a way of building community and reclaiming cultural identity in the face of oppressive systems. As an immigrant daughter of storefront owners, she is passionate about access to culturally appropriate foods for newcomers, and labour rights of food service workers and migrant farm workers. She believes in pairing conversations about food insecurity with body positivity, particularly in racialized youth communities. She is critical of the whiteness of veganism and is interested in decolonizing health food trends. Above all, she believes food is a great storyteller and wants to hear yours. When not thinking about food, Elise can be found editing poetry at LooseLeaf Magazine or banging on a drum kit.
Dayna 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.
Fateha HossainNetworking & Fundraising
Misha 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.
Sarah EdmundsNetworking - Volunteer Coordinator
Sarah is a Master’s of Public Policy & Administration student at Ryerson University, focusing her studies on the intersection between food waste and environmental policy in Ontario. She completed her Bachelor’s of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo, where her thesis concentrated on event sustainability in Toronto, paying particular attention to food sustainability and labour equity. Sarah’s involvement with community gardens in Burlington, food waste reduction in both the workplace and local community events, and the “zero waste” community have contributed to her interest in food policy. As a Networking Co-Lead (Volunteer Manager), Sarah is excited to engage youth in pressing food issues and learn more about food waste and food insecurity in Toronto.