Melana believes food insecurity is one of the most pressing issues facing Toronto today. She is Co-Chair of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council (TYFPC), and Chair of Food Secure Canada, Canada’s civil society voice on food policy issues. Prior to this role Melana worked in the office of a city councillor where she is the point person on food policy, poverty reduction, and urban agriculture issues. In her spare time, she supports food policy advocacy and environmental education as a member of the TFPC, and as a Board Director for Green Thumbs Growing Kids, Carrot Cache and Cycle Toronto, and as an Advisor for FoodShare Toronto and SummerLunch+. Melana holds a Masters in Development Studies from York University, with a focus on community-driven development solutions, and has experience leading food security initiatives in Canada, Ecuador, Guyana, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. In her spare time she dabbles in artistic endeavours supporting community arts projects that celebrate community resilience, cultural history and oral narratives.
Emma graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2016 with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies. She is currently the Logistics Coordinator at Two Roads Logistics and Co-Chair of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council.
With a passion for re-naturing cities and an enthusiasm for food because of its connection to human health and environmental sustainability, she hopes to bring more fresh food and nature to cities through urban agriculture and rooftop gardens. In her current position, she hopes to learn how to increase transparency and make more sustainable decisions along the supply chain. Emma loves spreadsheets, cats, and pesto and in her free time, she likes to explore the great outdoors. She is also a podcast addict so please share with her your favourite shows!
Melinda YogendranVice Chair
Melinda is Vice-Chair of the Council, and cares deeply about building a food system that adequately addresses issues of poverty and food insecurity in Toronto. Her love for food and its ability to foster connections to community and culture drive her desire to make a real and lasting impact on the way that people experience and engage with their food system. As a current Masters in Planning student at the University of Toronto, Melinda is interested in using city planning as a tool to reshape systems that perpetuate social inequities that individuals and families experience through their local food systems. She has previously worked in agricultural and livelihood development projects in Sri Lanka and Vancouver and has a specific interest in the relationships that immigrants and racialized communities have with food.
Rav SinghCommunications Lead
Rav aims to empower individuals and communities to engage in their local food systems. She is interested in exploring relationships and intersections between food, cultural identity and aspects of urban society, including urban food security, food justice and sustainable urban planning. Rav is an urban farmer and educator, helping youth discover their passion for growing! She is also involved in food policy work on a national level, helping to mobilize youth and advance the dialogue around food security issues across the nation. In her free time, Rav enjoys exploring cuisines and restaurants in the suburbs – which, in her opinion, is where all the great food is!
Elise YoonEducation Committee
Elise understands food as a way of building community and reclaiming identity. 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 and autonomy, particularly in racialized youth communities. She is critical of white veganism and is interested in decolonizing health food trends. Above all, she believes food is a great storyteller and wants to hear yours. Elise is also a poetry editor at LooseLeaf Magazine and works as a Youth and Family Counsellor.
Katie ShuterAdvocacy Committee
Katie is a passionate climate justice advocate who believes that just and sustainable food systems are necessary for a healthy environment and a greener Toronto. Through her position as the Advocacy Co-Lead of the Council, Katie hopes to offer a youth perspective on food issues and lead the discussion on food and the system’s intersection between equity and climate. She is a recent graduate of the University of Western Ontario, where she received a BA in Anthropology with a focus on Bioarchaeology. At Western, Katie was heavily involved in community service initiatives and was the President of the two largest university charity campaigns in Canada. Katie’s determination to make a difference has led to her current position as the Associate Director of Regenesis, a community environmental non-profit organization that seeks to empower youth as initiators of change in face of today’s social and environmental concerns. Before her role at Regenesis, Katie worked with the J.W. McConnell Foundation to address environmental and health concerns related to food in Canada’s healthcare system. Aside from working in the community, Katie loves pondering around museums, travelling, reading about natural history and anything paleoanthropology.
Katherine YeeAdvocacy Committee
Katherine has always felt most at home in the kitchen, surrounded by food, friends and family. Growing up in a multi-racial home in Calgary, Alberta Katherine was inspired to challenge the dominant Eurocentric culture of food production and consumption in the city. This, along with her interest in spatial relations and place-based identities, led her to obtain a BA in Urban Studies with a focus on food justice and security. Through her work at the University of Calgary, Katherine honed her understanding of the intersectionality of social equity, food security and urban-political geographies. Katherine moved to Toronto in 2017 to pursue community-based measures to alleviate food insecurity in Canada. She believes in the importance of incorporating the many lived realities of city-dwellers to create effective social programming. Katherine knows access to food is a basic human right and that food insecurity is a manifestation of the inequity that results, in part, from an increasingly precarious democratic landscape. Her table is always open to friends, old and new, for discussions of food and social equity, a hot meal, or (most likely) both.
Maria JudeNetworking Committee
Maria believes that food is a fundamental human right that should be upheld in Canada. As Networking Co-lead, Maria hopes to host engaging and enriching events that connect people to their ideal paths within the food-justice world. Maria intends to empower youth to become food justice leaders in Toronto through her active role as co-president and founder of Ryerson Students for Food Security. Her background in Food and Nutrition BASc, Sociology Minor and Food Security Studies certification shape her passion for social change and goals of food systems improvement. Maria has experience working in urban agriculture and holds a certificate in market gardening/farming from the Ryerson Urban Farm. In her free time, Maria enjoys travelling, baking, recipe developing, vegetable gardening, and adding to her houseplant collection.
Rachel SuttonFundraising Committee
Rachel is in the final year of her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto where she studies Geography and Environmental Science. She has carried out research in collaboration with the School of the Environment and Procurement Services Department at the university on designing sustainable procurement systems tailored to Higher Education Institutions. Additionally, within the university, Rachel works for the Sustainability Office on planning and implementing sustainability programming across campus. Outside of the University of Toronto, Rachel has volunteered with local NGOs Second Harvest and GreenPac. She is currently interning with the Donner Canadian Foundation and working on effective philanthropy to drive environmental policy work. Having grown up in a small farming community food security and equitable food access are highly important to her, and she hopes to continue combining procurement and sustainable food systems in her work. She enjoys painting, marathon running, and reading.
Pruneah KimAdvocacy Committee
Pruneah is the Advocacy Lead with the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council
Tabitha SanchezNetworking Committee
Tabitha is the Networking Committee Co-Lead with the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council
Devika ParsaudNetworking Committee
Sarah ClementEducation Committee
Sarah is the Education Committee Co-Lead with the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council.
Jerrica GilbertEducation Committee
Jerrica is currently completing their Masters in Environmental Studies at York University, researching community food relations and urban planning. They are interested in how urban agriculture can be used as a tool for addressing social inequalities and bringing communities together, as well as how food policy can be incorporated into regional planning practices. Having grown up on a farm, they are also interested in how rural-urban relationships shape perspectives of food and whether food issues can build solidarity between urban and rural populations. Jerrica loves gardening and cooking for others, and would like to see how we can create cities that are more just, food-secure, and beautiful.
Jade WongOperations Lead
Jade is the Operations Lead with the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council.