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The Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security hosts third Food Security Symposium

Press Release

TORONTO, Oct. 20, 2022 – The Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security (“the Centre”) hosted its annual Food Security Symposium on Tuesday, bringing together more than 130 participants from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors representing a broad range of perspectives, experiences, and interests.

Over 5.8 million Canadians struggle with food insecurity. Global stressors, an unprecedented pandemic, and record-high costs of living are resulting in unprecedented food bank use and increasing food insecurity. This Symposium focused on structural solutions to food insecurity, including a whole of government approach, public policy reforms and community-based interventions.

Symposium speakers and panelists 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. Presenters included the Honorable 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.

Notable quotes from the day:
  • “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. 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” – Michael H. McCain, Executive Chair of the Board & CEO, Maple Leaf Foods and Honorary Chair, Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security
  • “Global systems shocks are endangering poor communities, even in Canada. We have a big job on our hands. We need to bring together the private sector, non-profits, Indigenous communities, governments, and others to alleviate hunger. Societies that leave it’s poorest members to struggle with hunger cannot succeed.” – Dr. David Nabarro, Former Special Advisor, UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development & Climate Change and Co-Lead, food workstream of the UN Global Crisis Response Group
  • “It’s interesting that we have to justify poverty reduction measures. Everyone is impacted by things like inflation, but it’s those with the lowest income that are the hardest hit. They are the ones making the choice of, ‘can I pay for rent or food?’. Those are the basic necessities we need to be supporting”- The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children & Social Development, Government of Canada
  • “It’s not just the social determinants of health. It’s the moral determinants of health. The reality is that food insecurity is pouring into our healthcare system, but we’re not going to get to health outcomes if we think about healthcare alone. Partnerships between health, philanthropy, and communities are a place to start.” Dr. Andrew Boozary, Founding Executive Director, UHN Gattuso Centre for Social Medicine

  • “When I was a young food security advocate, I felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of improving food security and food sovereignty. But an Elder I spoke to had me picture a river. The river is rushing with powerful systems that are carved into our society – racism, colonialism. You can throw a single rock into the river and make a small ripple. But we can look together at the river and start throwing rocks in the areas where it will have the biggest impact. Collectively, we can start to throw boulders, and bend the river in the direction it needs to go.” Dr. Joseph LeBlanc, Associate Dean, Equity and Inclusion, NOSM University
About the Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security

The Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security (“the Centre”) is a registered charity committed to working collaboratively to reduce food insecurity in Canada by 50% by 2030. The Centre advocates for critical public policies and invests in knowledge building and programs that advance the capacity of people and communities to achieve sustainable food security. The Centre was created in 2016 and is governed by a board of directors, including four independent experts.

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For further information: Maple Leaf Centre for Food Security: Sarah Stern, [email protected]; Maple Leaf Foods:[email protected], [email protected]

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