At a Glance:
- The Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC) was created in 1991 as a sub-committee of the Board of Health and continues to function today.
- It is an intersectoral roundtable council representing a diversity of values and experiences including: the farm/rural sector, antipoverty activists, community organizations, food systems analysts, conventional and organic business sectors, education, labour, multicultural organizations, Toronto Board of Health, and municipal politicians.
- Lessons Learnt: engage diverse stakeholders and create structures and processes that support the integration of diverse perspectives on food and agriculture that are conventionally seen as isolated or independent issues.
Toronto is recognized internationally as a municipal food policy leader. Over the past two decades, the TFPC has worked to ensure that Torontonians have access to healthy, sustainable, affordable and culturally appropriate food. It connects diverse stakeholders from the food, farming, community and governance sectors to identify emerging food issues, promote food system innovation, and facilitate policy development and action towards a health-focused food system.
Projects & Initiatives of the Toronto Food Policy Council
As of 2020, these include:
- Policy & Advocacy: TFPC has made significant contributions to the Toronto Food Charter which is articulates City Council’s commitment to food security. It is the community reference group for the Toronto Food Strategy team, advising on strategy development and implementation and has been working with Sustain Ontario to advocate for a Local Food Act to increase production and consumption of local food in Ontario.
- Agriculture: TFPC helped develop and implement an action plan for moving urban agriculture forward including linking growers with space, strengthening education and training, increasing visibility, adding value, cultivating partnerships, and developing supportive policies. TFPC actively participates on the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Agriculture Action Committee which works to achieve sustainable, long-term agriculture industry within the GTA. It also participated in the development of the Greater Golden Horseshoe Farm and Food (GGHFF) Action Plan which “identifies pathways for a more integrated and coordinated approach to food and farming viability in the area”
- Community Engagement: TFPC supports the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council which seeks to engage and mobilize youth to build a just food system by providing space, sharing opportunities and hosting two permanent Youth seats on the TFPC. In partnership with Toronto Public Health and industry, TFPC is part of ‘Feeding Diversity’ that aims to make culturally-appropriate vegetables more widely available in underserved neighbourhoods and strives to substitute these often imported foods with locally grown versions. The Food by Ward initiative documents food assets and opportunities across the city compiled as an interactive map including emergency food programs, community food services, local food retail, children’s meals programs, community gardens, and urban agriculture.
The work of the Toronto Food Policy Council is noteworthy for its longevity and scope. It has also been widely and carefully studied to identify and share learning and insights from their experience. This research is available on their website.
What Else? Other Relevant Examples
- For other industrialized country examples, see this directory of Food Policy Groups in North America, Europe and Australasia.
- Another interesting example from Canada is the St. John’s Food Policy Council in Newfoundland.
Food for Thought
What diverse perspectives and concerns do you juggle in your role?
What insights on working in multi-stakeholder, intersectoral spaces might apply to your work?
What are the local municipal policies in your area and how do these affect what you do?