With a mission to advocate for long-term solutions to food insecurity, North York Harvest is putting the voices of our community at the centre of our advocacy.
Throughout our history, we have engaged with our community members through surveys, polls, programming feedback, and outreach projects to better support our community, build relationships and learn about the issues that most impact food bank usage. Several years ago, we updated our mission statement to include focused advocacy. For us, a large part of that has meant working to empower community members who are accessing emergency food and using our platform and collective voice to support our community in advocating for change.
In 2022, we started a community engagement program called ‘Photovoice’, drawing from a participatory research method that uses photography and stories. Our aim is to provide a platform for our community to voice their lived experiences around food access. Community members were paid an honorarium for their time and efforts, and participation was built along informed consent, accessibility, and relationship building at its core.
Our goal in sharing these stories with you is to promote critical discussion of important community issues. We believe that stories can affect change when we’re able to connect to one another: from community members to policymakers and supporters from all walks of life that can come together to advocate for solutions to complex health and social issues that lead to food bank use. We are using our collective voice at North York Harvest to push for the policy solutions that will most impact our community and that will address the underlying issues that lead people to access emergency food. Working together, we can bring about long-term sustainable change in the city of Toronto.
This project is helping us to sharpen our advocacy to address issues highlighted by community members that impact their food security – from emergency food programs, affordable housing and rent, decent work, social assistance, public transit, to services and support for children and seniors, newcomers and immigration, and more. We are advocating across a spectrum of issues and collaborating alongside our community at all levels of government: municipal, provincial, and federal.
North York Harvest has been creating tangible change with our community members but it’s time for all of us, in this period of unprecedented demand, to get truly serious about tackling food insecurity and demanding a world in which food is a basic human right, accessible to all. It’s the collaborative efforts we undertake and the principles we hold fast to that will make our society more equitable to all.
Get to know our community through the stories that came from the Photovoice Project at our community food spaces.
Photovoice Story Gallery