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Community-based food projects and organizations and networks

What are they, what do they do and what makes them successful in Canada and on the Ryerson campus

New Brunswick Food Security Action Network collage

The Ryerson Good Food Market is a monthly initiative run by students, offering affordable food. From left to right: Ayat Rizvi, Arghavan Mokabberi, Kaitlin Rizzari and Maria Jude. (Chelsey Gould/Ryersonian)

The last 30 years has witnessed the emergence of hundreds of food security organizations, networks and projects including food banks, community food hubs and centres, community gardens, urban farms, food boxes, farmers and community markets, food policy councils, literacy and cooking programs.  

These projects and organizations represent a sector that operates at the nexus of income and food based approaches , working to build capacity and infrastructure needed to achieve food security and improve access to healthy food.  

What community based projects can be adapted to work on the Ryerson campus to address issues of food insecurity and improve access to healthy food and food security at Ryerson? Building on the success of the Ryerson Urban Farm project, this project will work with students and student groups to develop projects and networks to help make Ryerson a more food secure campus.

Important case studies have been written, yet no comprehensive analysis of the sector in Canada exists. This project will advance learning by researching, compiling and disseminating a comprehensive national review of community-based food security organizations, projects, initiatives and networks, answering these questions:

  • What are the characteristics of community food organizations that effectively provide direct services, and in some cases support the development of social enterprises? 
  • What helps organizations move beyond the pilot phase? Why are some organizations around thirty years after they were created, while others start but are not sustained? 
  • What role do successful small projects play that never scale up but are successful because they provide a needed service?
  • What kinds of community food projects can be successful on the Ryerson campus?
  • Can a Ryerson Food Policy Council, rooted in the history and experiences of Food Policy Councils around the world, be a relevant mechanism for improving food security on the Ryerson campus?


McIntyre, L., Jessiman-Perreault, G., Mah, C. L., & Godley, J. (2018). A social network analysis of Canadian food insecurity policy actors. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, 79, 1-7.

FLEdGE (external link) , University’s Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Food Systems (external link) , Food Secure Canada (external link) York University’s Food Policy for Canada (external link) , Meal Exchange (external link) (external link) (external link) 

Updated May 2020