By working to understand how food gets to people’s plates, particularly those who need it most, a Parkdale study hopes to develop a pilot project to create more effective and sustainable flows of healthy food to all communities.
The two-year community food assessment study, called Community Food Flow Project, will explore all sources of food for food-insecure groups, and aims to identify the bottlenecks in the community food system, explained Kuni Kamizaki, the project lead.
Kamizaki said they want to develop detailed maps, which will give them a clear picture of how food flows from agencies like Daily Bread, farmers markets and co-ops like the West End Food Co-op and urban gardens like Greenest City.
“We hope to incubate a pilot project to do something different from what we have right now,” Kamizaki said. “We hope to see how the different layers come together or how we can reorganize the different networks of food distribution.”
Kamizaki explained the Parkdale project will build on the existing Parkdale Food Network and other collaborations to depict a detailed map and assess food flows in the Parkdale area.
The project will look at the challenges that can limit people’s access to food, such as poverty and mental health issues, high rents or lack of convenient food outlets, and pilot initiatives to increase access to affordable, healthy and culturally-appropriate food.
Kamizaki specializes in social planning and community development and is the Community Economic Development Coordinator at the Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre (PARC). He has been working with the West End drop-in centre since he was a student and worked on a report called ‘Beyond Bread and Butter’ which examined the opportunities for developing a community food strategy for the downtown Toronto neighbourhood of Parkdale.
As the lead organization, PARC was recently awarded $148,800 over two years from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to support the Community Food Flow Project.
PARC is working in collaboration with area agencies like Greenest City and Daily Bread Food Bank, with additional project collaborators including Toronto Public Health’s Toronto Food Strategy; Shelter, Support & Housing Administration at City of Toronto; the West End Food Co-op; Parkdale Community Health Centre; and Working For Change.
Kamizaki said they hope to have a pilot project in Parkdale complete by the end of the summer and then possibly look at rolling out different studies in other Toronto neighbourhoods.
By developing a better understand of existing distribution networks, the Community Food Flow Project aims to create a strong network of distributors and community members with experience in developing innovations around food distribution and addressing together problems of gaps and inefficiencies in community food flows.