January 2011 Community Meeting Notes – Hunger, Poverty, Food Deserts

Toronto Youth Food Policy Council

January 10th, 2011Community Meeting -Youth Innovation in Urban Agriculture

On January 10th 2011, over 50 food-passionate Youth gathered at Metro Hall to discuss the issues of hunger, poverty, and food deserts. The following document reflects the related policy positions of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council’s Community, as discussed during our brainstorming session.

1. School gardens are an opportunity to engage and educate youth.

Since it can be challenging to coordinate volunteers throughout the summer months and difficult to rely on parents, paid positions through grants, subsidies, or other sources of funding should go towards Youth to maintain the garden and engage the community through the growing of food. This can foster community engagement, and a sense of belonging and ownership within the community.

2. Urban agriculture can alleviate issues of food security and food access in food deserts and low income areas

As Youth, we would like to see a clear set of by-laws to simplify the process of growing food in urban areas. This includes reducing barriers to accessing to public land, creating community food hubs, forming like neighbourhood composters and tool libraries, incubating food businesses, funding new initiatives, and creating of a public land inventory will inspire Youth to take action to grow food and alleviate the issues of food security and food access in food deserts and low income areas.

3. Skills training for Youth in the food sector can create opportunities

Funding from the city for the food handler certification specifically geared for Youth can open doors and create opportunities for youth to work in restaurants and food related jobs. Top neighbourhoods for this initiative include Parkdale and Keele/Lawrence

4. The urban environment can engage the community in alleviating poverty and hunger

Engaging the community, including property managers and landlords, the city, and public transit to create centralized food hubs can create communities that are walkable and livable, helping to alleviate the issues of poverty and hunger.

5. Relating the food secure with the food insecure

To connect these two groups, we suggest community engagement through education. This can be accomplished through community food hubs that integrate other activities like physical fitness/recreation into the hub. These hubs would celebrate cultural differences and engage the community through things like community gardens, community kitchens, and guest lecturers to inspire and educate Youth and the community

6. Use public transit to reduce, not increase, access barriers for people living in food deserts

Our public transit system is not food friendly with proposed service cuts during prime shopping hours in the events and weekends. A timed transfer system, dedicated grocery store shuttle buses, mobile markets, or markets within TTC property can allow people who live in food deserts to overcome the challenges our public transit system may impose.

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