Lauren Baker is a Health Policy Specialist with the Toronto Food Policy Council and Toronto Public Health's Food Strategy Team. In this capacity, Lauren works with community and business partners, and across City divisions to promote a healthy, sustainable food system. Lauren has consulted widely on municipal food policy development in Canada and beyond. She has been involved in many farm to fork initiatives, and her past work includes being the founding director of Sustain Ontario - the Alliance for Healthy Food and Farming. Lauren teaches at the University of Toronto, is a research associate with Ryerson University's Centre for Studies in Food Security, and has a PhD in Environmental Studies from York University. She is the author of Corn meets Maize: Food Movements and Markets in Mexico (2013). Lauren is Co-Chair of the Everdale Board of Directors.
Harriet Friedmann (current member, 1 year) is a University of Toronto sociology professor who has gained an international reputation for her work on the health and agricultural impacts of globalization. She has also worked on crucial academic committees developing United Nations expert consensus reports on environment, climate and food subjects. Friedmann was one of the earliest members of the TFPC during the 1990s and served as TFPC co-chair for one term. . She has played a key role in finding university funding for several recent TFPC projects, including the e-mail service called “foodforethought” and the earliest policy development work on local and sustainable food. She will help the TFPC keep abreast of emerging trends among leading food system thinkers around the world.
Barry Martin (current member, 1 year) is the Founder and Principal of Hypenotic, a full service communications and design firm. Over the past 13 years, Barry has worked with a number of food and farm organizations in Ontario, including Sustain Ontario - The Alliance for Healthy Food and Farming, the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, Fiesta Farms, The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, Southbrook Winery, Fifth Town Cheese, Local Food Plus and others. Barry sits on the Slow Food Toronto steering Committee.
Paul Nagpal (current member, 1 year) is a co-founder and senior partner of Strateva Partners, a boutique financial and strategic advisory company servicing the small-cap and entrepreneurial sectors of the Canadian economy. His main focus revolves around providing strategic guidance and business advisory services, particularly within the energy, manufacturing, and retail sectors. Paul has spent time working at Deloitte Consulting, working with Fortune 1000 and non-profit companies to create business transformation plans, product assessments, and resource strategies. Later, Paul worked with AT Kearney, focusing on market entry strategies, operational efficiencies, cost reduction, and strategic assessments. Paul has worked with many small and mid-cap businesses, assisting them to become more profitable and sustainable.
Fiona Nelson (honorary member) ensures that health promotion, child nutrition, composting and cooking from scratch always get their due at TFPC meetings. A former kindergarten teacher and professor of Early Childhood Education at George Brown College, Nelson also served as a Toronto Board of Education trustee from 1969 to 1997, chairing the Board for four terms. Nelson also chairs the Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition. Before retiring this year, Fiona was the longest-serving community member of the Board of Health.
Hélène St.Jacques (current member, 1 year, TFPC Chair) has been President of Informa Market Research, a research and communication firm specializing in food retail trends, since 1979. Her firm specializes in providing marketing advice to Ontario farmers who try to sell value-added products that express values of health and agricultural sustainability. She has served on the boards of several community organizations, including Jessie’s Centre for Teenagers, Dixon Hall and FoodShare. She helps the TFPC understand food retail trends that influence policy for local, sustainable and healthy food.
Chris Wong (current member, 3 years) is a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council. He is the co-founder of the Young Urban Farmers Community Shared Agriculture an innovative non-profit organization that transforms underutilized backyards into community gardens. Chris is also the President of Young Urban Farmers, a business that helps people grow their own fresh produce in the city through raised beds, containers, and edible landscaping.
Margaret Zondo (current member, 1 year) is a small-scale farmer in Ontario growing organic vegetables on a 2-acre plot with a special focus on culturally appropriate vegetables popular among Southern African and other immigrant communities in Canada. She is the Program Administrator with the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and in this role has participated in several global conferences on HIV and AIDS. Margaret has worked as a senior executive in the Zimbabwe Public Service, she is the Co-Founder of the ZimAlternative Cultural Association in Ontario, and she has served as Vice President of the African Canadian Social Development Council and on many other Boards.
Gavin Dandy (new member, 2 years) is a farmer and a teacher of new farmers, and the Farm Director at Everdale Environmental Learning Centre. Recently, Everdale has expanded to coordinate the new Black Creek Urban Farm project in north Toronto. Gavin oversees Everdale’s farm and new-farmer training programs, including the Sustainable Farming Certificate internship program and the Farm Planner course. More than 70 new farms have been launched by graduates of these two programs. Everdale Farm is a 250-acre certified organic operation which grows vegetables, mixed grains and livestock. Everdale sells its produce direct-to-consumer through our 350-family Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) program as well as at farmers markets such as the Brickworks and Green Barn in Toronto. Gavin is also a part time instructor at Sir Sandford Fleming College’s Sustainable Agriculture Graduate certificate program, and at the University of Guelph’s Sustainable Urban Agriculture certificate program.
Sonia Dhir (new member, 2 years) is a Project Manager for the Humber River Watershed at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). Sonia has a Masters degree in Environmental Planning and Management from York University and a Life Sciences degree from the University of Toronto. Her primary responsibilities involve establishing partnerships, engaging the community in watershed management, environmental advocacy, implementing environmental projects, facilitating near urban agriculture on public land, and communicating watershed health through the media, presentations and special events. At TRCA, Sonia has led and worked on various environmental monitoring and reporting initiatives. She has developed leading edge agricultural policies for thousands of acres of conservation lands and manages TRCA’s urban agriculture portfolio. Sonia is involved with various other local food systems and sustainable agriculture initiatives in the Toronto Region. Sonia is also a full member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and a Registered Professional Planner.
Alex Dow (new member, 2 years) is the Manager of Malvern Action for Neighbourhood Change working on community development and engagement initiatives in north-east Scarborough. Alex leads a roundtable on food security in the community and has been building neighbourhood food action in Malvern since 2009. Community members are currently focused on strengthening food security programming, food education and skills-building, and cooking/healthy eating programs. A neighbourhood good food market recently launched as well as 20,000 square feet of urban agriculture space. Malvern resident leaders are committed to gaining the skills to move onto more complex projects such as farm incubators and food-related youth employment initiatives in coming years.
Carly Dunster (new member, 2 years) works as a sole practitioner and food lawyer at Carly Dunster Law, where she provides affordable and accessible legal and consulting services to those seeking to build more sustainable food systems. She has worked with many food and urban agriculture initiatives in Toronto, including the Toronto Underground Market, Food Truck Eats, the Food Constellation at the Centre for Social Innovation, and The Depanneur. She is a member of the Toronto Street Food Project, a group advocating for a friendlier regulatory structure for diverse street food in the City of Toronto. She also sits on the Metcalf Advisory Committee for their Environment Program’s new Sustainable Food Systems funding stream. She works as a capacity-builder in the small and medium-sized food sector, and also spends a significant amount of time convincing other lawyers to specialize in food.
Janet Horner (new member, 2 years) is the Executive Director of the Greater Toronto Area Agricultural Action Committee. The Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Action Plan has been the major project of the GTA AAC during the past year. Janet is a partner in two family businesses- Whitfield Farms Ltd. and Whitfield Farms Country Catering Service. She brings with her a tremendous amount of experience in event planning, catering, food processing and small business start-ups. Whitfield Farms Catering is a full-service catering business, specializing in outdoor events for groups up to 3500 people. Janet volunteers her time as Board Chair of FarmStart, an organization that builds capacity of new farmers at McVean Farm in Brampton and provides training programs for new farmers across Ontario. She is also a board member on the Rural Ontario Institute, an organization that develops leaders, initiates dialogue, supports collaboration and promotes action on issues and opportunities facing rural Ontario.
Marina Queirolo (new member, 2 years) is the Food Program Manager for Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. Since joining Evergreen she has re-developed the food strategy for the site and created a portfolio of programs that address food literacy and sustainability with the goal of reaching diverse audiences. Marina also manages a year round weekly farmers’ market, recognized as the largest market in the city. Marina brings an artistic and entrepreneurial spirit to the various roles she has held since emigrating to Canada from Argentina in 2002. A graphic designer/marketer by training, Marina sees the creative opportunities and “ideas” in everyday life. This interest led her to create a company called sûrkl empanadas which she developed at the FoodShare’s Toronto Kitchen Incubator. As a member of Slow Food Toronto, she has volunteered and participated as a chef in food events such as the Slow Food Picnic. Her guiding passion is about motivating and engaging the community and industry to collaborate towards the common goal of creating a strong and sustainable local food economy.
Sabina Ali (new member, 3 years) is the Project Coordinator for Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee and is committed to community development initiatives and food security. She manages a seasonal Good Food Market in partnership with FoodShare with the goal of encouraging healthy eating in her neighbourhood. This market also includes freshly prepared food, clothing and jewellery vendors, and activities for children and performances. Her aim is to create social and economic opportunities for the women in the community. She is currently involved in a community food growing project that is focused on healthy food growing, community engagement and creating opportunities for women to build the foundation of social enterprises based on food. She is interested in strengthening food security programming, food education and starting up a community kitchen in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood.
Arsema Berhane (new member, 3 years) is a Community Health Manager at Toronto Community Housing, where she develops, implements and monitors community development initiatives, systems, policies and procedures in a project management capacity as a key support to communities. As the strategy lead for youth leadership development, Arsema strives to advance a vision of community building through resident engagement, civic action and community economic development. Arsema has a BHSC in Health Science and Community Development and has been working in the social service sector for the past 15 years. With a firm belief in Anti-Oppression and Social Justice work, Arsema devotes her time advocating for systemic transformation and creating inter-sectorial linkages to better serve multi-barriered communities across the GTA. She is, a founding member of the Eritrean Youth Collective, a former Board Chair of the Young Diplomats, and an alumni of the Creative Institute for Toronto’s Young (CITY) Leaders. Arsema has also served as Co-Chair of the Ontario Youth Matter! Campaign; lobbying all levels of government to develop a coordinated youth policy framework for the province of Ontario.
Angela ElzingaCheng (new member, 3 years, sharing TFPC membership position with Utcha Sawyers) works for FoodShare Toronto as the Urban Agriculture and Community Food Animation Co-Manager. Angela has been working as a community organizer and developer for over 15 years. She came to FoodShare after working at a neighbourhood-based food security organization in Vancouver, Canada and getting a Master's in Social Work at the University of British Columbia with a focus on community development and anti-oppression. Angela's work as an Urban Agriculture Manager is informed by her agriculture work as a youth and now by the experienced gardeners and farmers' in the city. Angela's passion is to support change towards a more just society that reflects the diversity of Toronto. In the past, she has been involved with nation-wide political action related to education reform and hopes to translate that into food reform in Toronto. FoodShare's Urban Agriculture and Community Food Animation projects span gardens, farms, composting, beekeeping, Good Food Markets, neighbourhood-based food networks, and supporting community based decision-making and leadership.
Sunday Harrison (new member, 3 years) is the founder of Green Thumbs Growing Kids, a community-based non-profit that supports children, youth and families to garden on school and park lands. Programs take place primarily on four school grounds in downtown east Toronto. Sunday is the Program Director and Volunteer Co-ordinator at Green Thumbs, and is completing a Masters of Environmental Studies at York University. Her interest in school food and environmental policy led her to seek a position on the TFPC.
Amanda Montgomery (new member, 3 years) is the Community Programs Manager at The Stop Community Food Centre, where she oversees food-based emergency, skills development and community action programs. A graduate of the Masters of Environmental Studies Program at York University, Amanda has a broad range of experience starting and facilitating community food programs, both in Canada and South America, including community gardens, kitchens and markets.
Utcha Sawyers (new member, 3 years, sharing TFPC membership position with Angela ElzingaCheng) is a Food Justice & Community Animation Manager at FoodShare Toronto. With over 15 years of devotion to social justice activism work within communities of colour and low-income communities both locally and internationally, Utcha brings to the table a pollinated grassroots approach to the ever growing Food Justice and Food Sovereignty movement that has been building momentum over Toronto's food action movement. Utcha is an International Advisory Board Member and Local Empowerment Group (LEG) sub-committee Chair, for Growing Food Justice Initiative (GFJI), an international organization leading the Food Justice movement globally to dismantle racism in across food systems. She also chairs, consults, and facilitates on a variety of cross-community food justice, food democracy, and food sovereignty initiatives both local and globally. With an education and employment journey in Employment Resource Development and Afro-Caribbean Studies, Utcha continues to support and advocate for marginalized communities with great emphasis on growing equality, and just local, national, and international food systems. Utcha collaborates with a dynamic network of agencies, institutions, resident leaders, grassroots
Beverley spent the last 26 years working in the food service sector, leaving the private catering business to work in food security she joined Second Harvest 9 years ago, and is the Agency Relations Manager. Second Harvest is a charity that rescues fresh, surplus food that would otherwise go to waste, and distributes it daily to a network of more than 200 social service agencies across Toronto. Since its inception in 1985, Second Harvest has rescued more than 100 million pounds of food, addressing two issues – hunger relief and waste reduction.
Tania Fernandes (new member, 3 years) has been the Health Promoter at the Rexdale Community Health Centre since 2011. In this role, she supports multi-sectoral linkages and community driven projects to address food insecurity. Tania is the co-founder and coordinator of Rexdale’s annual Foodie Festival, which connects community members to local caterers, food programs and advocacy initiatives. She is also the Co-Chair of the Community Health Centre Food Security Network, the Rexdale Food Access Committee and the Rexdale Community Garden Network and a recent graduate the Master of Public Health program at the University of Waterloo.
Rachel Gray (new member, 3 years) is the Executive Director of The Stop Community Food Centre. Rachel has worked in the community services sector for over 20 years, most recently as the Director of National Initiatives at Eva’s Initiatives, where she helped build capacity in the youth-serving sector across the country. She also helped develop, and served as the Manager of Housing at Eva's Phoenix. She previously worked at the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and as a special assistant to the Minister of Health for the Province of Ontario. She brings with her a wealth of community engagement, fundraising, and communications experience.
Tinashe Kanengoni (new member, 3 years), is connected to the community food security and food justice movement. He has a York University Masters in Environmental Studies that focused on food, waste, and energy sustainability. He is currently the project lead with Seed to Table, an organization that does work around food literacy, youth leadership and food enterprises out of the East Scarborough Storefront and Rosalie Hall. Tinashe is working on a start-up soil fertility management company that will be making aerated compost teas. He has over 10 year experience in community food animation and was the first community food security coordinator for the City of Toronto in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood. Tinashe grew up in a cash crop farming and gardening family in Zimbabwe. He has worked for FoodShare, the Toronto Food Animators, the Afri-Can Foodbasket, North York Harvest Food Bank, and has also worked on local food enterprises through Toronto Public Health’s Healthy Corner Store initiative.
Joshna Maharaj (new member, 3 years) is a busy chef with big ideas about good food! Her strong social justice and sustainability ethics flourished during her time at The Stop Community Food Centre, where she built innovative and delicious community food programs, putting a grassroots kitchen on par with the rest of the kitchens in the city. Recently, she has been working with hospitals in Toronto, trying to reconnect good, wholesome food with wellness, and create new models for institutional food procurement and production. Joshna is a regular guest chef on CBC Television’s Steven and Chris, and she was a speaker at the 2011 TEDxToronto conference. She is the Assistant Director of Food Services and Executive Chef at Ryerson University, where she is working on a new campus food strategy with a focus on offering students, staff and faculty more sustainably sourced, wholesome, affordable food.
Shirin Mandani (new member, 3 years) is the Executive Director of REH'MA Community Services. At Reh’ma, Shirin initiated projects to address food security issues for seniors and to bring employment to immigrant women in the food sector through culinary skills training. Reh’ma Community Services delivers a free Halal Meals on Wheels for seniors. The culinary training program provides free culinary skills training and employment to immigrant women from marginalized backgrounds has been successfully operating since 2012. Reh’ma’s social enterprise focussed on food has employed women from diverse backgrounds who are operating from a commercial kitchen, serving various corporate and not for profit groups. In the past, Shirin coordinated the Agriculture and Food Processing public policy national conference for the Canada India Foundation.
Richard Matern (new member, 3 years) is the Senior Manager of Research at Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto. Daily Bread is a food distribution network, providing food and support to almost 200 food programs across Toronto. His responsibility at Daily Bread informs the long-term solutions component of their work, including the development and implementation of a research program to support a government relations strategy and an organizational strategic plan. A cornerstone of this work is Daily Bread’s annual Who's Hungry report, which illustrates the level of poverty and hunger in the city.
Joe Nasr (new member, 3 years) is a as a part-time lecturer and associate of the Centre for Studies in Food Security at Ryerson University and co-founder of the Toronto Urban Growers. His main focus is on urban agriculture, as well as the relation between design and planning and food system issues. Joe has worked on numerous projects globally that highlight the place of food in cities. He has been involved in urban agriculture issues since the early 1990s. In Toronto, he has been part of creating the Toronto Urban Growers, was co-author of a scaling up urban agriculture report, and supported the preparation of the GrowTO Urban Agriculture Action Plan. His primary teaching areas are urban food and agriculture systems; the city and sustainability; history of urban planning theories and practice; urban form and its formation; planning, urban and regional theory; urban development; disasters and the city.
Ryan Noble (new member, 3 years) is the Executive Director of the North York Harvest Food Bank, one of the largest food banks in Toronto. After graduating from Queen’s University with a Bachelor in Commerce in 2001, he started his career working in the aerospace industry, focused on managing change and organizational transformation as well international business development. Food security has always been a passion of Ryan’s – he undertook graduate-level research in community development and local food systems, eventually earning a Master’s degree in education from the University of Toronto. He has participated in several local initiatives around community-supported agriculture and alternative food systems. Prior to accepting the Executive Director role, Ryan served as a member of the North York Harvest Food Bank board of directors.
MARY FRAGEDAKIS (City Councillor) was elected to Toronto City Council in 2010. As a life-long resident of Ward 29, she brings extensive business expertise and strong community-building experience to her role as Councillor. Prior to her election, she served as Vice President of a business-to-business conference company. In 2008, her company was awarded Best Overall Performance for Small Business in Toronto. The award also won Mary recognition for her green advocacy efforts in promoting conferences dedicated to eco-marketing and best practices. Mary is fiscally prudent, having completed the Canadian Securities Course and held several positions in the financial sector. Mary's dedication to community services led her to co-found the Broadview Community Youth Group (BCYG) in 2007 to engage East York youth from all walks of life in activities to build self-confidence, self-worth and a strong sense of community. As Board Vice President, she has been instrumental in building bridges and partnerships with local charities, not-for profits, businesses and government agencies to expand the BCYG, which recently moved into larger quarters at the Danforth Baptist Church on the Danforth. She has worked to break down barriers for people of all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds as an outreach community volunteer of the Royal Ontario Museum for 15 years. With her dedication to the arts, Mary participated in the first pilot project in Toronto to make many of Ontario's public museums and galleries more accessible to new Canadians.
MARY-MARGARET MCMAHON (City Councillor) is an activist, a realist, and a champion of community and collectivism. A catalyst of change, she is a natural connector and fights hard for what she believes in. Councillor McMahon is committed to nurturing the integrity of Ward 32 and this vibrant city through a sustainable partnership between community and councillors. She believes in uniting the city to face challenges together, where good things come from combined engagement and efforts. She’s loyal to citizens, good ideas and effective execution. Councillor McMahon is committed to working hard on all her campaign promises, not only for the common good of all Ward 32 constituents, but for all residents of Toronto.
Administrative Support to the TFPC and Support Assistant C for the Toronto Food Strategy at Toronto Public Health
Melana Roberts is Chair of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, an arm of the TFPC recognized as representing the youth voice in food policy in Toronto. She is also Coordinator for Malvern’s Action Neighourhood Change Initiative, where she project manages a number of food security initiatives, including Scarborough's first 3 acre urban farm. With an interest in improving access and equity in Toronto, Melana strives to advance civic action through developing tools and resources that empower communities, with a particular focus on supporting young people and underrepresented groups to drive their own development. Melana also holds a firm belief in Anti-Oppression principles and a need for intersectional work; and devotes her time to advocating for systems-change that works to create intersectorial linkages to better serve communities facing multiple barriers to access. She supports this through her work as a Board member for FoodShare and as part of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s National Youth Advisory Council. In her space time, Melana also supports project coordination for the TFPC's Food By Ward: Food Assets and Opportunities, a ward by ward mapping tool, and their ongoing Food Champions initiative. Melana holds an MA in International Development Studies from York University, with specializations in rural agriculture, community development and community health systems.