FoodShare Champion Debbie Field Awarded & Celebrated for Remarkable Activism

Monday, May 29, 2017

The actions we take each day, as the saying goes, are a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.

Dedicated activists, then, are the ones making sure their daily votes really count. And this, of course, includes some notable movers & shakers casting their vigorous votes for a healthier, more vibrant and fair food system.

For many around here, one shaker that likely comes to mind is the estimable Debbie Field: a leader, champion, change-maker—a revered activist.

For decades, Debbie has been committed to work in food security, social justice and healthy school food, cultivating serious change in each endeavour.

So it’s no surprise that earlier this spring, Social Planning Toronto honoured Debbie with the Frances Lankin Award — an award given out annually to someone who has made a significant, sustained contribution to Toronto’s non-profit community sector.

“Debbie is truly a ‘Food Champion’ not only in the City of Toronto, but her thoughtful approach to food security has been heard right across Canada,” shares GHFFA’s Executive Director, Janet Horner. “She has stood head and shoulders above many in the food movement because she not only ‘talks the talk’ but works hard to make sure that good healthy food reaches those who need it in the city.”

Among many achievements, Debbie’s concern with a lack of healthy food in schools led her to the role of Executive Director at FoodShare in 1992, after organizing the Coalition for Student Nutrition.

A Torontoist article, This Woman Has Been a Leader in Toronto Food Security (written by another renowned food activist, Wayne Roberts), highlights how Debbie’s remarkable leadership turned FoodShare into the largest food security charity in North America.

FoodShare Toronto is a non-profit organization that brings healthy food and food education into schools and communities through numerous innovative programs.

Their prolific impact is really unquantifiable—but, if you want some numbers, just look at their 2016 Annual Report: last year they reached 272,776 children and adults through food by animating 1,261 community led food initiatives; their urban agriculture team animated 79 community led food initiatives across Toronto; they delivered 2,213,227 lbs of vegetables and fruit last year through various projects, good food boxes and innovative markets (in partnership with Toronto Public Health, their new Grab Some Good markets brought fresh produce to TTC stations, making healthy food a convenience for commuters); they helped to grow 500 lbs of organic produce last season alongside clients at CAMH’s Sunshine Market Garden; they animated student nutrition programs reaching 194,629 kids each school day; they reached 404 people through food justice community workshops.

And that’s not even all of it.

FoodShare’s impact is not just powerful, but also ubiquitous. Just like Debbie’s.

The past year brought change for FoodShare. They relocated from Toronto’s Bloor-Dufferin neighbourhood to the northwest end of the city, they started new projects like the “Good Food Machine” and the aforementioned “Grab Some Good”, and among other changes, after 25 years as their Executive Director, Debbie Field stepped down.

The GHFFA would like to send immense congratulations to Debbie for her incredible achievements in advancing healthy food systems in so many ways, and in so many communities. Her leadership has fostered lasting change.

“After her tireless efforts,” Janet adds, “she has earned the right to step back and take a breath!”

On the Frances Lankin Award page of Social Planning Toronto’s website, it reads:
“Under [Debbie’s] leadership, FoodShare has created awareness, new structures, networks, funding flows and innovative subsidized social enterprise models to deliver programs that make the food system better for all. FoodShare introduced novel ideas and cemented the community sector’s role in creating food system solutions and promoting food justice. Debbie champions food security by all, and for all.”

For those that wonder if one person can really make a difference, Debbie Field is your proof.

We look forward to watching FoodShare’s visionary growth into the future, and encourage everyone to learn more about their many programs and projects on the FoodShare website.