Every year, the Global Ideas Institute (GII) gives students in Grade 11 and 12 the opportunity to consider a real-world, far-reaching problem, and propose and develop an innovative solution. Through this Institute, an initiative of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, students work with U of T professors and graduate student mentors throughout the academic year. This year’s topic is food security and sustainable hunger; as acknowledged by the United Nations, food security is one of the great threats facing the world today. Food security refers to the consistent availability and accessibility of safe and nutritious food; as such, a person is considered food secure when they are consistently able to access safe and nutritious food. The issue of food security is a complex issue of equity and social justice; it intersects with many cultural, economic, environmental, and social concerns.
Facing this immensely challenging topic, the SCS GII Team – comprised of Jiaru C. ’18 and Megan S., Charlotte R., Tilly R., Zoya R., and Lucy F., all ’19, under the guidance of Dr. Jaime Malic – attend monthly lectures and workshops at U of T, complete a variety of readings, and meet regularly at SCS to prepare a proposed solution for a particular aspect of the larger topic that will be shared with industry experts at a day-long symposium in April.
As part of their research, the GII Team recently welcomed SCS parent Sarah Hillyer to school to hear her thoughts on local food insecurity. Sarah had a lot to share on the subject; she worked for many years as a fundraiser with Community Food Centres Canada, an organization whose mission is to build health, belonging, and social justice in low-income Canadian communities through the power of food. Many Canadians who are aware of the challenges and issues around food security in our country are looking to support innovative changes to the system, and Sarah’s job was to steward these donors. “In Canada, it’s not about not having enough food – Canada has enough food,” Sarah shared with the girls. “The issue in this country is not having access to food on a regular basis. Approximately four million people in Canada (1/3 of which are children) are deemed to be ‘food insecure’, either irregularly on a meal-by-meal basis, or on a regular basis.” Sarah described a number of the serious obstacles facing certain demographics in Canada when it comes to food security, and how recent government decisions, such as changes to Ontario’s minimum wage, may impact the issue.
This session was particularly informative for the SCS GII Team as they continue to work on building a solution for the particular aspect of food insecurity they have chosen to focus on: food insecurity among postsecondary students in the GTA. Within the past few weeks, the team developed a causal model for this issue and delivered an initial pitch of their idea to local industry experts from Food Secure Canada, The Stop, and Feedback App. Next up, the team will apply the feedback they received from these experts, conduct additional research, and work together to develop a process or product that could ensure greater food security for postsecondary students – a perhaps surprisingly vulnerable population – in their local community.
Check back next week for another edition of #SCSSpotlight, where we profile a different student, group, activity, or interesting event!