The community food centre: Using relational spaces to transform deep stories and shift public will


  • Syma Habib Community Food Centres Canada



Food justice, food security, poverty reduction, community development, grassroots organizing, community organizing, decolonizing food systems, indigenous food systems, advocacy, public will


COVID-19 has revealed deep inequities in our food system. As goodwill and charity from this crisis disappears, and emergency supports begin to dwindle, we can anticipate increased food insecurity amongst Canadians. Rising food prices and unemployment will drive a lack of access to fresh nutritious foods for already stressed and vulnerable individuals.

As a community organizer who has advocated for poverty reduction and food justice over my lifetime, I understand the short-lived nature of change that occurs without public will and engagement - policy wins end up being removed in the next election cycle. My experience with party-dependent advocacy projects has led me to ask the question: how do we build the kind of public will that demands access to healthy and nutritious food as not an individual responsibility but a public duty, much like universal healthcare?

 In writing this paper I intend to draw upon my experiences in organizing to explore the deeper cultural and internal shifts that may need to occur to inspire public will and create change that lasts beyond a single election cycle, and the opportunity that COVID-19 presents as Canadians grapple with questions about food security and poverty in an unprecedented time. I will connect with three community members I advocated with in my time doing placebased community organizing, all with different experiences of food insecurity, and use a storytelling approach to imagine a more effective way of advocating for just food futures.




How to Cite

Habib, S. (2022). The community food centre: Using relational spaces to transform deep stories and shift public will. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 9(2), 64–74.