As in the previous post, PARC, as a lead of the collaborative, has been awarded with Ontario Trillium Foundation grant for Community Food Flow project to conduct a community food assessment study with a focus on food distribution and to incubate pilot projects to create more effective and sustainable flows of healthy food to all communities.
What is unique about our food flow analysis is its focus on ‘community’ food flow – how does food get into the neighbourhood through various food distribution network? We hope to understand the complexity and opportunity of Toronto’s wider food distribution networks from a neighbourhood lens. More importantly though, this project relies on an innovative collaboration of many partners who represent a different aspect of food distribution systems in Toronto. While each will have a different degree of participation, our partners include:
- Parkdale Community Health Centre
- West End Food Coop
- Greenest City
- Working for Change
- Daily Bread Food Bank
- Second Harvest
- North York Harvest Food Bank
- The Stop Community Food Centre
- Toronto Public Health’s Food Strategy
- Shelter, Support and Housing Administration at the City of Toronto
We are very thrilled to have these amazing players together at the same table to collaboratively investigate the challenges and opportunities for rebuilding community food flows in Toronto. Such a multi-stakeholder collaboration is very powerful, but difficult to coordinate . Thus, on January 7th, we held a strategic planning session to make sure that we have common understanding of the project goal, expectation and role of partners.
There are mainly four goals in the project.
- To increase access to healthy and nutritious food, as well as diversity in diets and outlets for affordable food through better overall control of community food flows across the city
- To provide community capacity and resources to create a more effective distribution system while helping organizations move past the emergency food delivery stage
- To build an increased connection between urban agriculture and food security
- To create templates and tools that can be used for similar food assessment studies in other neighbourhoods and jurisdictions
Each participant had opportunity to consider which goals their organization see the most relevant and can contribute to achieving.
Strategic planning session was a great reminder that many opportunities can emerge if each of us collaborate by sharing and leveraging their own organizational strength – research, policy, logistics, connection with community, programming capacities, infrastructure, relationship with suppliers, and many more – with other organizations in order to address the common challenges felt differently by each. But the session also clarified further points of discussion to make the collaborative work smoothly.