Toronto Community Food Animators
Food animation is really about assisting communities to “bring to life” new projects and make improvements to existing services. Under this initiative, food animators work closely together to support the initiation and development of a best-practice based food projects across the four animation streams – Community Kitchens, Community Gardens, Fresh Food Markets and Enhancing the Emergency Food Sector – by working with local leaders and community agencies in Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough. The Animators engage communities in the effort to build community food security, reduce isolation and create public space.
What is the Community Food Animators project all about?
The city is filled with neighbourhoods that do not have adequate access to affordable, healthy, and culturally appropriate food. Many residents do not have the money to buy all the food they want, or do not have the transportation to get to the nearest food outlets. At the same time, many residents see food as a way to connect with neighbours, which leads to community-building. They are interested in programs that help them share their cultural background and have opportunities to learn about their neighbours traditions in growing, cooking and sharing food. There is great interest in learning more about diets rich in vegetables and fruits that could enhance health especially of children, rather than diets of fast and prepared food.
Community Food Animation in Toronto – History and Present Day
Funding from the City of Toronto and the Toronto Community Foundation initially made it possible for four organizations to partner together on a year-long pilot initiative called the Community Food Animator Project. This project incorporated an innovative partnership model that draws on the expertise of leading organizations in the City of Toronto. Four Community Animators were seconded from their respective organizations for the duration of the project (August 2004 to October 2005) to animate community food projects in each of the following four streams: fresh food access (FoodShare Toronto, also the lead organization for the project), community gardens (Afri-Can FoodBasket), emergency food sector support (Second Harvest), and community kitchens (The Stop Community Food Centre). Public Interest, a private sector partner in the project, provided research, program development, evaluation, and policy development support.
The project received additional funding from the City of Toronto in 2006 for the Markets and Community Gardens portions. In addition, funding for a community markets network was received from the Project for Public Spaces, a U.S.-based non-profit organization well-known for their public markets program.
Most recently, FoodShare's Community Food Animators have been charged with bringing to life community kitchens, community gardens and Good Food Markets throughout the City of Toronto, and we are grateful for funding from the City of Toronto for this important work.
For more information on any aspect of the Toronto Community Food Animators projects, contact Utcha Sawyers: email@example.com, 416.363.6441 x225.
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