Latest updates 10/21/2022 This September, we hosted our first Food Summit since before the pandemic. More than 300 staff at Community Food Centres (CFCs) and Good Food Organizations (GFOs) from B.C. to Newfoundland to Nunavut gathered over two days to connect, learn, and, in turn, support food security in their communities. The challenges of the past three years continue to be significant. From a global pandemic to skyrocketing inflation, many people living on low incomes are struggling to afford food and other basic needs. Our partners have worked tirelessly on the frontlines to meet these needs in their communities, as well as advocate for more income support from our elected leaders. The Food Summit was an opportunity to get reinvigorated after a few tough years. Our partners shared their highlights: I was nourished by heartfelt connections. Inspired by brilliant and passionate minds. Fuelled by such a potent shared moment with "my people". Listening to and sharing stories of success, difficulties and inclusivity gives me hope for the future of food security for my own community! For me, seeing I am not alone in my need to inspire change. Sharing knowledge, skills, and inspiration The Summit was opened by elder Wendy Phillips alongside moving words and reflections from Water Walker Dr. Tasha Beeds. From there, participants began two days of learning and connection. The Food Summit workshops and sessions allowed partners to discuss and develop skills and share resources they need to offer high-impact food programs in their communities. There were over 25 sessions, workshops and panels to choose from. That's over 30 hours of timely and useful content! CFC and GFO staff could learn more about designing community meal and garden programs, evaluation frameworks, communications, and fundraising – just to name a few. Indigenous knowledge and perspectives were woven throughout many of the Food Summit sessions. This was in connection with our growing Indigenous Knowledge Sharing Circle and other colleagues, and continued important conversations on reconciliation and how to take action in partnership. Many topics were covered, from country food to land-based programming to tax clinics to food distribution in the North. Here are inspiring words from a few of our exceptional facilitators: “If people don’t get why you’re transforming your food bank, bring them to a CFC! Show them how to offer dignity and choice.” – Rhonda Huneaul, Manager of Food Security, Tungasuvvingat Inuit from the session Positioning Your Food Bank as a Force For Change “We’re all a part of a larger system. We need to look at how we participate in it and how we’re complicit, but also how we can shift.” – Dr. Tasha Beeds, Indigenous scholar and Water Walker from the session Climate Justice Through the Lenses of Three Generations Other powerful moments during the Summit included a water ceremony led by Dr. Tasha Beeds, which involved offering tobacco to the land we were on. Elder Mark Sault did smoking demonstrations and tended the sacred fire throughout the days, featuring moose, fish, wild rice, and fry bread. Tours of the Brickworks trails got everyone outside and taking in the sun. An evening social capped the first day with laughter, good food, and collective celebration. Taking action together At the heart of our work — and of the Food Summit — is a shared commitment to end food insecurity and poverty. The “Organizing to Win” panel on the final day of the Summit addressed how to successfully rally for change. Attendees heard from three campaign leaders about different strategies being used to mobilize around key issues today. As Deena Ladd, Executive Director, Workers’ Action Centre shared: “There’s no easy recipe for advocacy. It’s tough work and it’s labour intensive. We need to be grounded in community and organize based on the people directly impacted. We’re accountable to them.” At the end of the panel, Food Summit attendees participated in a mass social media campaign calling on the federal government for stronger income supports, including a Canada Disability Benefit by 2023. Attendees also had the opportunity to write and send postcards to their MP on the critical issue. Hundreds of these postcards are now on the desks of politicians across the country. Moving forward with gratitude and motivation. The two days at the Summit did what they were meant to: they connected our movement and motivated us. As people return to their communities to meet the increasing need for their programs amidst the rising cost of living, they are fueled by the knowledge that they are part of a cross-country movement. My highlight was connecting with folks doing awesome work ALL over this country/territory. And finding hope for the future. Thank you to all our speakers, facilitators, and panelists who shared their knowledge and experiences with us throughout the Food Summit. Looking forward to seeing you again!