Five fruitful moments from the 2017 Food Summit

Learning, sharing, and growing at CFCC's 2017 Food Summit

Building a food movement can be hard work! So it's especially rewarding to bring together staff from member Good Food Organizations and Community Food Centres to share, learn, engage, and connect. In April 2017, we were proud to gather more than 150 people from 60 of our partner organizations at CFCC's third annual Food Summit in Toronto for an intense weekend of inspiration. We heard so many amazing stories of change happening in communities from coast to coast, and we’ve been buzzing with energy and motivation ever since. Here are some of the most memorable moments.

If you'd like to attend our 2018 Food Summit, consider becoming a member Good Food Organization. The GFO program will be opening a new round of applications in September 2017 — join the good food movement!

Witnessing the work first-hand

We kicked things off with tours at the Hamilton Community Food Centre, The Stop Community Food Centre, and the South Riverdale Community Health Centre. Each visit included a tour of the space, and opportunities to speak with staff running community kitchens, gardens, and other programming. A participant who visited the Hamilton CFC told us: "[They were] great at describing the organization's evolution and thought process, and everyone was very open and welcoming. I loved the delicious homemade snacks!"

“We need to shake those trees”

Our Friday night event Fair Food Nation: Envisioning a future where food is a basic right, featured a panel discussion with Debbie Field, outgoing Executive Director of FoodShare, Tabitha Martens, mixed-ancestry Cree researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Manitoba, and Andy Fisher, U.S. community food activist and author of Big Hunger: The Unholy Alliance between Corporate America and Anti-Hunger Groups. They spoke to a crowd of almost 300 about how an investment in food can lead to community and social change. According to Andy Fisher, we should procure food with values, not just food that is a good value. As he puts it, "cheap food comes with a side dish of collateral damage." Debbie Field pointed out that in Canada we have subsidized transit, libraries, healthcare, and housing, but not subsidized food, and cited the dignified solutions that are increasing access to affordable food in places like Barcelona. Nick Saul, who moderated the discussion, said “the question isn’t whether we need to fix the food system. It’s how fast can we do it?” Tabitha Martens shared insights on Indigenous food sovereignty and the importance of maintaining connection between our food and the land it’s grown on. With respect to how we achieve our goals, she stated, “we need to shake those trees.”

Planting seeds of knowledge

Participants chose between 22 workshops over the weekend on topics ranging from how to develop fruit and vegetable subscription programs, to using social discomfort as a tool to engage diverse audiences, to the "Nudge vs. Shove" — a lively debate on the best ways to encourage healthier eating. These sessions illustrate what the Food Summit is all about—providing opportunities for people to meet, learn from each other, and exchange best practices.

Focus on Indigenous communities

The Land and Spirit: Indigenous Responses to Food Insecurity session emphasized that in order to uphold and respect traditional food practices, we need to engage with and learn from Indigenous communities. Presenters Chad Duplessie, Erica Ward, Danielle Boissoneau, and Joce Trembley shared insights from their work developing urban partnerships in Toronto and Hamilton, and projects on reserves in New Brunswick. They discussed efforts to reintroduce Indigenous approaches to food and land, and underlined how important it is to ensure Indigenous people are at the centre of this work. 

We can build a movement together

The time is ripe for change, and there’s a lot of fruitful resistance happening through the inspiring work of our Community Food Centres and Good Food Organizations. We heard a myriad of stories about community progress over the weekend, and as Nick Saul phrased it, hearing them is “like oxygen to us.” The energy of our partner organizations breathes life into the good food movement we’re building, and more voices than ever are coming to the table to help fight for a fair and healthy food system. Together, we’re changing the conversation around food policy with a clear message: that access to healthy food is a basic right.

Thank you to all who attended, presented, and supported for making the weekend so inspirational and memorable. We can’t wait to do it all again next year!