On Feburary 6th, 2017, The Toronto Youth Food Policy Council hosted its bi-monthly community event at Regent Park Community Food Centre, as an opportunity for young people to explore careers in food. The event titled “Mapping Your Food Career” provided a safe space for youth to discover the many potentials and possibilities of employment in the food sector through hearing from food professionals and local food leaders to who have established their careers in food activism, research, programming, and public and non- profit food work.
Before there was a chance to hear from the experts, the night started off with a ‘Network Career Café’, where attendees had informal chats with other aspiring foodies and food professionals about their career backgrounds, their food interests and career goals. From my own experience of participating in the career cafe, I was able to hear a diverse set of experiences from just the few people around me, including someone who had just completed their university degree and was planning for their next steps in their food career as well another attendee who was working on innovating new food growing methods. It was a very eye-opening experience!
The later part of the night allowed for a panel discussion with professionals from across Toronto’s foodscape. The panelists included: Sarah Archibald, Program Manager at Meal Exchange, Katie German, School Grown Program Manager at FoodShare, Rachel Gray, Executive Director of The Stop, Tania Fernandez, Manager of Healthy School Kids Challenge in Rexdale, Spencer Fowlie Healthy Menu Planner at Real Food for Real Kids, Emily Martin, Manager at Regent Park Community Food Centre, Ziadh Rabbani, Green Access Community Health Worker at Access Alliance Multi-Cultural Health and Community Services and Jessica Reeve, Coordinator of the Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC). The panelists spoke about how they found their way into their present food careers, while making mention of their successes and challenges through school and different jobs and inspiring mentors that picked them up along the way. The speakers had much knowledge and wisdom to offer! Among some of the highlights, panelists spoke about the particular economic and social challenges today’s youth face while trying to find employment and the importance of carrying motivation and passion in your food career goals.
In addition to our panelists, we also had: Food Grads, Meal Exchange, York Environmental Studies and the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council table at the event to provide additional information for attendees. The event was catered by Hawthorne Food and Drink, an innovative social enterprise that offers catering or dining in downtown Toronto, who provided us with street style noodles and a taco bar! Yumm.
The event was overall inspiring and provided great insight into the world of food careers. With growing interest in food issues, such as food justice, food insecurity and food access in Toronto and the GTA, it is more important than ever to explore the many ways in which we can address concerns in the food system through diverse career paths. We had a great time and we hope everyone who attended did too! See you at our next community meeting in April!
Author: Janany Nagulan
Editors: Fateha Hossain and Hilda Nouri
Our ‘Network Career Cafe’
Taco bar and Street Style Noodles from Hawthorne Food and Drink!
Our lovely panelists!