The Parkdale Food Network held its third meeting on June 26 2013 at the Masaryk-Cowan Community Centre and brought together over 30 participants from a wide range of collaborators from local social service agencies, city staff, housing providers, and community members. The PFN meeting was convened as an opportunity for collective reflection on the PFN’s efforts for the past year – the PFN was officially launched in spring 2012.
The meeting began with the opening remarks from Victor Willis, Executive Director of PARC, who provided an overview of various activities that the PFN has undertaken – the genesis of Parkdale Community Food Market, the development of the Community Land Trust initiative, the community engagement work in partnership with Maytree Foundation’s Building Blocks, and the bulk-buying initiative.
As one key activity from 2013 for two years, Victor introduced the Community Food Flow project funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The introduction was followed by the local MPP Cheri DiNovo who also joined the PFN meeting to give a speech to congratulate on this innovative exploration of food distribution and procurement work in the community food sector.
The introduction was followed by another food security project spearheaded by the West End Food Co-op: Co-op cred program. Co-op Cred program is a food security accessibility tool built on an alternative currency model. It is a debit-based membership card program that everyone can access, but that can be used in particular to facilitate access for low-income and marginalized groups to the health and economic benefits of local and nutritious food at the Co-op. The pilot project has been developed in partnership with PARC Ambassador Program.
For more details, a great article that captured the presentation and stories from Bob Rose, PARC senior manager and PARC Ambassadors is available at the Inside Toronto/Parkdale Villager.
The second focus of the meeting was the Community Food Flow. The Community Food Flow project is a community food assessment that explores assets and challenges of food distribution and procurement in the community food sector, while also combining research with partnership development and capacity building. Building on lessons from the PFN’s Bulk-Buying initiative, the CFF project hopes to expand its scope of partnership and potential collaborative solutions to food distribution and procurement.
The presentation was to provide a project summary to PFN members and CFF partners as well as to present initial findings from the first phase of research. And the next steps are the survey to paint a detailed landscape of commonalities and differences among organizations, and the focus groups to assess opportunities and potential strategies for overcoming existing challenges. The PowerPoint presentation is available here (the interim report is forthcoming).
Thirdly,the Parkdale Community Food Market team – Ayal from West End Food Co-op, Rachel from Greenest City, and Niveen from Toronto Youth Food Policy Council – gave a brief presentation on the project development. The Parkdale Community Food Market intends to bring affordable healthy food to the South Parkdale, where a large number of community members face daily challenges of food insecurity and access to fresh and healthy food at affordable prices. The Market is also envisioned as a community-run space that recognizes differences, and acts as a point of gathering for the diverse community members of Parkdale. The team is currently planning a pilot project with a view of launching it on July 31 Wednesday at Masaryk-Cowan Community Centre. More detailed information will be updated on this website soon!
Thanks goes to the West End Food Co-op for providing refreshments;
And special thanks to all the funders for making all the innovative works possible;