Blog April 4, 2012
Changing the food system, one workshop at a time
By Laura Freel, youth summit coordinator
Food is powerful stuff. It sustains us, brings us together and is one of the simple joys of everyday life. Unfortunately, the modern food system is anything but simple. Everyone is affected by it, yet few understand it—and the system is in dire need of change.
Such was the thinking behind STEP’s (Students of Toronto for Environmental Progress) choice to make Food the theme of this year’s Youth Summit at Evergreen Brick Works on May 3. The goal of the summit is to educate students about the problems that exist in today’s food system and empower them to make informed choices about the food they eat, as well as to make change in their schools and communities. Building on the success of our Youth Bike Summit in May last year, the Youth Food Summit will bring together more than 130 high school students from across the city for a day of workshops designed to educate and inspire them to build a better food system.
After a keynote speech by Laura Reinsborough of Not Far From the Tree, participants will take part in four workshops: industrial food systems, gardening, cooking and activism. The industrial food systems workshop features a game that simulates how the choices we make as consumers affect the food system, while the gardening and cooking workshops will give students a taste of the hands-on skills they need to grow and cook their own food. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the activism workshop will help each school group draft a plan for a campaign, event or program to create positive change in the food system through their schools—from meatless Mondays to organic window gardens.
For STEP members, the Youth Food Summit will be the culmination of more than seven months of dedicated planning. Made up of passionate, environmentally-minded Toronto high school students, this will be the group’s biggest project to date. We are lucky to have had the opportunity to work with TDSB EcoSchools, Evergreen and FoodShare to make this event the best it can be. With just one month to go before the big day, we are working hard to hammer out the final details of our plans. It is our hope that students who attend the summit will be empowered to make a lasting difference in the food system, through actions taken in their own lives and in their communities.
For more information about the Youth Food Summit, or to learn about STEP, visit our blog at steptoronto.wordpress.com.
Laura Freel is a high school student, a member of STEP and one of the lead coordinators for this year’s Youth Food Summit.