By Evan Muller-Cheng, Manager, Community Initiatives
End of July marks the middle of summer, and a busy time for the Food Security programs and services at ACSA.
Over the past few months the Food Security project has been busy with a variety of projects ranging from health and fitness programs, hosting community cooking workshops, a variety of community events, working with community residents on their community gardens.
Many of us don’t think of food security on a day to day basis, and are connected with food by heading to the grocery store with an itemized list, and really feel it is another chore we have to check off during the week. In many households food becomes so structured and rigid that the relationship with food becomes a daily routine and a basic requirement that is consumed without much thought and presence.
Indeed, there are so many different ways to experience food. A big question that needs to be asked ourselves is “what is my current relationship with food”?
For some, food is a central characteristic of family tradition, or symbolic ritual of a religious ceremony. Others may use food for personal performance, such as body builders to build muscle or athletes that require food as fuel.
At ACSA, we use food as a community engagement tool and a community connector. What do we mean by that?
As mentioned, ACSA uses food to increase knowledge about food needs, practices, traditions and cultures. For instance, in partnership with Toronto Parks People, ACSA is leading a project titled – Chester Le Diverse Community Garden Project. This initiative will expand the existing community garden located in Chester Le Olive Garden, and enable residents to come together to share recipes, experiences, and learn more about nature-focused programs. An exciting part of this program focuses on teaching local residents about Aboriginal history and origins toward gardening and nature practices. This knowledge sharing will enable local residents to be more conscious about historical practices and events. In particular, newcomer participants may gain critical knowledge and understanding about social justice issues. For instance, how different foundations of traditional knowledge with Aboriginal environment and food compare to western beliefs. Accordingly, being more conscious about food history as it relates to the environment and other wider factors will be a very informative journey and opportunity for residents.
In the up and coming blogs, we aim to highlight the stories about the Chester Le Diverse Community Garden Project, which will illustrate the relationships with food and nature among community residents and ACSA.