Melinda is Co-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.
Sheldomar is passionate about food justice work that tackles issues around food insecurity and achieving food sovereignty for marginalized communities. His focus is on how Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities are able to acquire food sovereignty within our current food system which continues to oppress these exact peoples. As a Ryerson University student studying Environment and Urban Sustainability, he recognizes the urgency needed to change and/or reform our food system through policy and advocacy work to ensure a sustainable one for years to come. Sheldomar has experience in organizing food events that bring together food activists and champions from around the GTA to facilitate discussion around what the future of food could look like through an equitable and anti-oppressive lens while remaining inclusive to folks of varying identities. On his free time, he loves to travel the world and enjoys the simplest joy of being present with his friends, family, and life.
Erika believes that youth engagement is central to equitable and sustainable food systems that promote affordable and nutritious food. Erika’s current work focuses on 2S and LGBTQIA+ youth food insecurity and housing first strategies. Erika is a recent graduate of the Ryerson Master of Social Work program and has previously worked in harm reduction, youth justice, and research/policy development. In their free time, Erika loves to catch up on their (many) podcasts and TV shows.
Jaimie WhiteCommunications Co-Lead
Jaimie believes that food can bring people together like nothing else can. Jaimie loves to cook, enjoy meals with friends, swim, hike, bike, and camp! She has experience as an event organizer and facilitator of food programming for community food organizations across the city. Jaimie has an academic background in food, nutrition and food security, and is driven to improve peoples’ relationships to food by highlighting how these relationships are driven by intersectional systemic forces. She currently works as the Engagement Lead for the national charity Meal Exchange, where she works with post-secondary students across the country to create healthy, just, and sustainable food systems in their campuses & communities. Jaimie finds inspiration and hope for social change through working with students and believes strongly in the power of young people to transform our food system towards a just, equitable, healthy & thriving future. She looks forward to connecting with the TYFPC community to work towards this future together!
Nicole ForgetCommunications Co-Lead
Nicole (she/her) is excited to be the Communications Co-Lead for the 20/21 year. She is a nutrition and food student with a minor in psych at Ryerson. She is passionate about the concepts of health/ism, food security, food systems, and food justice. In her free time she likes to make pasta from scratch, go on hikes, and cross-stitch! 🙂
Alexandra LambropoulosOperations Lead
Alexandra is passionate about the arts, the environment, urban planning, and the creative ways that they intersect to enhance our cities and support the resilience of our communities. She holds a Bachelor in Human Geography (with a focus in Planning), Urban Studies, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from the University of Toronto. She believes that having equitable, culturally appropriate, and sustainable food systems is a key part to having healthy cities and communities. In her free time, Alexandra enjoys baking and travelling, taking photographs and writing about both those topics.
Abinethaa ParamasivamFundraising Co-Lead
Abinethaa graduated from Ryerson University with a Bachelors in Biomedical Sciences Co-op and Certificate in Food Security. She is interested in exploring the nutritional status of children fleeing conflict and helping improve the overall health of this population. During her undergrad, Abinethaa conducted research both locally and internationally as a Research Assistant at the University of Toronto and University College London, as well as completed a capstone project with Canada’s largest food rescue organization, Second Harvest. Abinethaa hopes to use her research experiences and passion for food insecurity to raise awareness and foster change within Toronto youth through community-led workshops. When she is not working, you can find Abinethaa training her mischievous dog, going on adventures around Toronto, or watching her favorite YouTubers.
Christine SunFundraising Co-Lead
Chris is a disabled, queer, settler of East Asian heritage studying Political Science and Critical Studies in Equity and Solidarity at the University of Toronto. Currently, their research explores mainstream moves towards solidarity in relation to Indigenous sovereignty and decolonization movements, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, focusing on the ways in which racialized and white settler practices of allyship too often participate in the same racial and colonial systems the aim to dismantle. They are deeply invested in food as a healing gesture, and means for community and solidarity building between oppressed communities. They believe that the creation of equitable and culturally sustaining food systems, cannot occur without the active dismantlement of oppressive beliefs and systemic structures – white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism especially – that perpetuate poverty and food insecurity within Black, Indigenous, and POC communities. In their spare time, they can be found in the company of close friends, wrapping wontons with kinfolk, and going for long-ish runs.
Rossen LeeFundraising Co-Lead
Rossen (she/her) is a recent Ryerson University graduate with a degree in Nutrition and Food, a Chang School certificate holder in Food Security studies, and a total Virgo. She believes in always fighting for the underdogs, and supporting vulnerable communities with dignity and cultural respect. Her academic work explores food inaccessibility issues within urban Canada for LGTBQ+ folks, youth/postsecondary students, people experiencing homelessness, racialized groups, sex workers, and more. Rossen also believes that the strongest forces around are love and friendship. Her goal is to build community resilience across Toronto by supporting endeavors of social capital and community engagement. Rossen never really knows what she gets up to these days, she just bends as the winds blow.
Devika ParsaudNetworking Co-Lead
Devika has graduated from York University’s School of Health Policy and Management with a Masters in Health specializing in Health Policy & Equity. She has also completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and Health Studies from the University of Toronto. Devika is interested in the relationship between the social determinants of health and the political economy. She is focused on bringing awareness and advocating for change within Toronto’s food system. Highlighting issues such as; food insecurity and the importance of sustainability. She is interested in community initiatives, outreach programs, and public policy. She has goals of exploring social injustices and being a part of interventions and change for a more equitable healthy society.
Maria JudeNetworking Co-Lead
Maria believes that food is a fundamental human right that should be upheld in Canada. 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.
Winnie WangNetworking Co-Lead
Winnie is interested in issues concerning food insecurity, urban farming, environmental sustainability, and the relationship between food and mental health. Informed by their cinema studies and film programming background, they’re also passionate about forms of communication and policy that create positive influence across large populations. As the Networking Co-Lead this year, they hope to learn more about the food landscape in Toronto and to create meaningful connections between the arts community and food justice advocates and activists. In their free time, they enjoy vegetarian pasta, analog photography and film festivals.
Emily DialEducation Co-Lead
Em is a grower, educator, and poet born and raised on Ohlone lands, currently known as the San Francisco Bay Area of California. They believe that a radically kind and uncompromisingly just world is possible, and will be fueled by an equitable and regenerative food system. Em holds a Bachelors in Biology and Masters in Environmental Communication from Stanford University, and currently works at an urban farm. She is excited to bring her passion for art, storytelling, agriculture, and food sovereignty to the TYFPC this year as Education Co-Lead. In her free time, Em loves cooking, reading, rock climbing, and brewing beer.
Jane LawEducation Co-Lead
Jane is passionate about using food as a tool to build solidarity across difference in communities. Jane sees food as essential to helping communities build resiliency, which she hopes to explore further as she pursues a Masters in Urban Planning at Ryerson University. Jane believes that reshaping ideas around food as a commodity and shifting perspectives of what spaces are “appropriate” for agriculture is key to building equitable, inclusive, culturally appropriate and accessible food systems. In the past year, she has worked as a facilitator in community kitchens, exploring storytelling as a medium in building solidarity. Outside of school, Jane enjoys dancing, bouldering, baking, and walking around the city. Through the TYFPC, Jane hopes to connect and engage with individuals passionate about food issues in our city.
Sophie LauEducation Co-Lead
Sophie is an Education Co-Lead for the 2020/2021 TYFPC.
Zartasha ZainabEducation Co-Lead
Zartasha recently completed her Honours Bachelor of Science with a double major in Health Sciences and Psychology at the University of Toronto. During her time at UofT, she organized various fundraisers, events, campaigns and panels around global humanitarian issues on campus and within the community ranging from winterization, famine appeal, orphan sponsorship and genocide awareness as well as creating safe spaces for students to have conversations. Zartasha enjoys working on social causes to help alleviate human suffering and enhance health and well being both at a social/political level as well as at an individual level. Her majors in Health Sciences furthermore enhanced her understanding of various health paradigms and humanitarian issues using holistic models which included both disease prevention and health promotion at the individual level and within a community.
These past two years, Zartasha has been in various critical conversations pertaining to food in relation to health. Whether it was during her time working with the student union to have conversations with students facing food insecurity, or whether it was cultural culinary practices shaping health by children of immigrant families including processed foods, convenient foods, or genetically modified foods and its impact on health issues as well as its psychological and social impacts. Zartasha also had an opportunity to work with the City Councillor on issues related to food security. She hopes that through working with the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, she is able to have an enhanced understanding of food and its impact on physical and mental health amongst immigrant communities and engage in critical conversations with the community.
Kaitlin RizarriAdvocacy Co-Lead
Kaitlin believes the knowledge exchange of seeds and food is vital to community healing. As a student of Social Justice Education, Kaitlin believes that we need to re-create our food system for sustainable and equitable futures, and BIPOC youth must lead these changes. She sees growing our own food to be a portal for action- around Filipina/o/x-Indigenous relationship rejuvenation, settler responsibilities, and healing community trauma through decolonial and futurist frameworks. Kaitlin is passionate about building good relations with one another, across communities and oceans. As she is a lifelong student who is addicted to inquiry and research, during her free time you can find her reading, tending to her balcony garden, watching cute animal videos, travelling, or listening to podcasts.
Mary ShinAdvocacy Co-Lead
From farms in rural Nepali villages to the rocky soils of North York, Mary believes that food is a fundamental human right that has the capacity to nourish us and foster connection. Her experience with obtaining her permaculture training in Nepal, working as an urban farmer and community garden animator in Toronto, and background in non-profit organizations spurred her interest in further understanding the intersections between food security, sustainability, and climate change. Mary completed her Masters in Public Policy and currently works as a policy advisor researching energy resilience in the face of climate change. She’s excited to bridge her knowledge of policy with food security. In her spare time, you might be able to spot her dancing with her headphones on the TTC, stuffing her face with brunch, and/or scaling a rockclimbing wall.
jade guthrieAdvocacy Co-Lead
jade believes in the power of food as a meeting point – as a tool that creates space for people to come together. jade’s day job as a community kitchen facilitator gives her freedom to explore that space in relationship with communities across the city – cooking, eating, and learning together. Her background in social work brings an anti-oppressive, critical lens to the work she does around food, with a focus on engaging with food justice and sovereignty movements in meaningful ways. She is particularly interested in how the stories we tell (both ourselves and others) about food can be mobilized to build community. A few other things that she’s interested in include radical social policy, wine (both theoretical and practical dimensions), and dancehall music. Outside of that, you can usually find her eating dumplings, complaining about her allergies, and/or fantasizing about being able to pull off bangs.