TFPC at 2nd Annual Food Policy Hackathon

On March 25th, The Policy Innovation Initiative (School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto) hosted their second annual policy hackathon. This year’s event explored solutions to some of the most difficult and pressing food security issues in Canadian urban centers. Participants applied their design thinking skills to propose and refine policy solutions for following three key issues:

  • Institutional Food Procurement: How might we encourage healthy and sustainable food procurement in public institutions?
  • Food Literacy: How might we strengthen food literacy for at-risk populations in urban centers?
  • Home-based Food Businesses: How might we support urban home-based food businesses?

Participants tackled the challenges in teams composed of diverse skills and experiences, and were joined by Keynote Speaker Lori Stahlbrand (Health Policy Specialist responsible for the Toronto Food Policy Council) and Challenge Leaders, Adeline Cohen (TFPC member, OpenLab, Urban Farm Project, UHN), Reg Noble (Centre for Studies in Food Security, Ryerson University), and Cassandra Gentile (Director, Food Innovation Hub) to provide guidance during the hackathon.

The team working to address institutional food procurement focused on hospitals specifically, and envisioned creating a digital toolkit, which local healthcare champions could use to encourage hospital administrators to pursue more sustainable sources of food. The toolkit included recommendations for telling effective “food stories”, which highlight the importance that food plays in food on patients’ health outcomes and overall well-being. They also recommended sharing the toolkit with patient advocacy groups who could apply even greater pressure on hospital administrators to change their practices.

The team working to improve food literacy practices focused on concerns over the cultural appropriateness of current food literacy programs. They recommended working with local community groups to deliver inter-generational cooking classes integrated with a suite of other food literacy skills.

The team working to remove barriers for home-based food businesses decided to focus on increasing access to commercially-licensed kitchen spaces for aspiring entrepreneurs. They proposed creating an online tool where restaurants and other community spaces with commercially-licensed kitchens could connect with food entrepreneurs and rent out access to their kitchens for relatively small fees.

Thanks for having us. We can’t wait to see what’s cooked up next year!!