Toronto Raises the Bar for Youth Leadership on Food Policy

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Author: Katie Rabinowicz

Posted: September 16, 2009

Categories: Food in the News / News from Sustain Members / News from Sustain Ontario

The Toronto Youth Food Policy Council is born.

Toronto, September 9, 2009: At the most recent meeting of the Toronto Food Policy Council, Janice Etter, Citizen Co-chair, highlighted the need for a youth voice in city policy formation while introducing the launch of North America’s first Youth Food Policy Council. There are nearly half a million citizens between the ages of 15-25 who have been underrepresented in Toronto’s municipal public policy and planning. The meeting was led by several founding youth members who believe in prioritizing food education and supporting a food system that is sustainable and just.

Chaired by Tracy Phillippi, a Master’s student at York University, the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council is dedicated to building a food system that fosters sustainability and supports local foods.  The creation of the Council comes during a time of huge interest in food and agriculture amongst young people. “It is that unstoppable and enthusiastic belief in a food system that is sustainable, socially just and accessible, that we, the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, and the majority of individuals in this room, are fighting for,” Tracy said. The youth members have various areas of expertise including environmental studies, economics, nutrition, and urban planning. This Council will be the voice for Toronto’s youth on food system issues, and will share ideas with the Toronto Food Policy Council.

The group was formed through eager participation of young adults in the Toronto Food Policy Council’s youth outreach meetings in early March. The City of Toronto’s Food Policy Council operates within Toronto Public Health and reports directly to the Board of Health.  The Council is a forum for discussing and integrating policy issues that often fall between the cracks of established departments and research specialties.

Since coming together, youth members have been active in developing close relationships with other food-centered organizations to promote their perspective on food policy in Toronto. These relationships have resulted in the following priorities for the group:

·         Delivering leadership training on food security at the October 16th “Recipe for Change” youth conference hosted by FoodShare Toronto.

·         Providing youth the hands-on opportunity to learn about the food system through a workshop in partnership with the local chocolate-makers ChocoSol.

·         Supporting the Students of Toronto for Environmental Progress in their call to improve school cafeterias by encouraging the use of local food and environmentally conscious packaging.

·         Providing recommendations from a youth perspective for Toronto Public Health’s Food Strategy.

“Our knowledge of food’s journey from the soil to our dinner plate is becoming increasingly murky. Reconnecting with the story behind what lands on our plate will make us all healthier” adds Tracy. Youth members hope that their efforts and ideas will encourage the introduction of food education into schools.

Toronto youth can learn more about the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council by attending their next meeting on Monday October 5th, from 5:30pm-7:30pm at Metro Hall room 309, or by visiting the “Friends of Toronto Food Policy Council” Facebook group.

For further information:

Ashley Andrade, Toronto Youth Food Policy Council –

Yusuf Alam, Toronto Food Policy Council –