TYFPC Deputation on Street Food Vending

The following deputation was made to the Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee this morning on the topic of New Opportunities for Toronto’s Street Food Vendors.

March 18, 2014

Good morning. My name is Andrew McAllister and I’m a member of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, a youth-led group that works to mobilize and engage young people around food related issues. In our fifth year of operation we represent over 2,000 youth from across the GTA. I’m here to talk about an issue that’s at the heart for many of us in this city – street food. But I want to start off by talking about something else first – youth unemployment.

Toronto’s youth unemployment rate is 18% – the worst of any region in the province. We have the widest gap between youth and adult employment in the province as well, with a difference of 21.8% – the highest it’s ever been. The reason I’m telling this to you today is to shed light on some of the opportunities there are for tackling youth unemployment by increasing street food vending.

Creating more allowances for food trucks and street food vending enables youth looking to start a food business more viable options for selling their food. The youth we represent are eager to build a sustainable food system in this city. In our community, there are a number of young people creating innovative food options utilizing healthy, local food that are looking for ways to reach out to the public. These folks don’t have the capital or even desire to start a traditional restaurant – but see an opportunity to start a food vending business. These businesses can be great teaching tools too, enabling youth to learn how to do marketing, sales, advertising, and customer service all in one operation. It encourages innovation and programming for young people to engage with food – something that’s invaluable in today’s society. And it provides more jobs opportunities for youth as well.

But in order for this to take place, I’d like you to consider a few things:

Firstly, we need to ensure that the proposed changes allow for diverse options of street food, including fresh fruit and vegetable stands. Who wouldn’t want to grab a fresh fruit popsicle in the summer while walking around town?

Secondly, we need to ensure that street vending permits are affordable, and are based on assessments and research done on other jurisdictions. Please consider what the current fees mean for young people looking to start a business here in Toronto. We need to create incentives for young start-up businesses, which promote and increase youth employment and job opportunities. Let’s make it easier for them to get started.

In closing, I want to finish off with a good news story. Last year we held a community meeting highlighting the work of young entrepreneurs in our community. One of our speakers was Matt Basile, who owns Fidel Gastro, a Toronto food truck business. Members of our community were inspired by his story of creating a successful food business, which has now expanded to include a storefront restaurant. It’s this kind of innovation that’s possible with greater allowances for street food and food truck vending. Let’s work together to make it happen. Thank you.

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