TORONTO — The Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security hosted its annual Food Security Symposium on Tuesday, bringing together more than 130 participants from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. With more than 5.8 million Canadians struggling with food insecurity, the Symposium focused on structural solutions to food insecurity, including a government approach, public policy reforms and community-based interventions.
Symposium speakers and panellists shed light on the barriers to food access, the social determinants of health, the role of community-based non-profits, pathways towards cross-government collaboration on policy and the respective roles of the public and private sectors to drive long-term change.
Dr. David Nabarro, a global leader in advancing equitable food systems and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, was the keynote speaker. Other presenters included the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development; Chris Forbes, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Valerie Gideon, Associate Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services Canada; Wayne Walsh, acting assistant Deputy Minister, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada; Dr. Andrew Boozary, executive director of the UHN Gattuso Centre for Social Medicine; and Adam Van Koeverden, M.P. and parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health.
The Symposium also featured civil society leaders working to alleviate food insecurity and poverty, including Kathryn Scharf, Community Food Centres Canada; Kirsten Beardsley, Food Banks Canada; Dr. Joseph LeBlanc, Northern Ontario School of Medicine; Rafia Haniff-Cleofas, Race and Disability Canada; Charlene and Gordie Liske, Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning; and Adam Fair, Prosper Canada.
“We need comprehensive solutions. Clearly, strengthening the social safety net in effective and affordable ways must be part of the answer, yet it is not the only answer,” says Michael H. McCain, executive Chair of the Board & CEO, Maple Leaf Foods, and honourary chair, Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security. “Addressing mental and physical health, food and financial literacy, access and a litany of racial contributors must also be included to reduce food insecurity in Canada.”