“Pathways to Youth Employment Program” Grant
FoodShare Toronto received a two-year grant in 2010 from The Counselling Foundation of Canada to support its Focus on Food, Pathways to Youth Employment program. FoodShare Toronto is a non-profit community organization whose other programs include direct fresh produce access, childhood nutrition and education, community cooking, community growing and urban agriculture. Each month, this organization reaches over 155,000 children and adults across the City of Toronto.
All of the youth in FoodShare Toronto’s Pathways to Youth Employment program have barriers in their life due to systemic discrimination. Previous participants have been immigrants to Canada from the global south, racialized, living in a marginalized neighbourhood, navigating mental health challenges or living in the shelter system. Many of the youth who apply for this program do so because they are only able to find precarious and under-waged positions. According to Debbie Field, the Executive Director of FoodShare Toronto, “The program allows interns to build their professional skills through on-the-job learning and mentoring, and through workshops and trainings”.
Funding from this grant allowed FoodShare Toronto to hire a co-ordinator to work with local food service businesses to ensure that the program’s training makes youth job-ready. The learnings gathered in this process were used to develop the Focus on Food, Pathways to Youth Employment Program Manual. While the first half of the manual includes information about why/how the program and policies were designed, the closing section focuses on the placement program that is built into this initiative. The manual also offers a breakdown of policies and procedures, including administrative and marketing templates.
FoodShare Toronto is pleased to share its Focus on Food—Pathways to Youth Employment Program Manual with other organizations across the country looking to create their own youth employment program.