Voices from the Food Frontlines: Pandemic & Beyond

Sharma, Jayeeta | $50,000

Ontario University of Toronto 2021 SSHRC

Goal: This Connection project proposes 5 knowledge sharing events with academic team members, postsecondary students, and community members, that lead to the production of a web based archive for scholarly and public outreach. That open access, multimedia archive will feature the voices of people active on the pandemic food frontlines, describing their actions to advance food security, and their local , community-based solutions to achieve sustainable, food futures. The events and archive will connect those voices to the insights of an international scholarly team. It will enhance prior collaborations to connect academic research, local food and sustainability voices, from Canada and beyond.

Theme: Throughout the COVID 19 pandemic, local food producers, grassroot networks, independent food businesses, social enterprises, and other food frontlines actors fed communities in the face of increased food insecurity and widening social inequities. Team members, i.e. co-applicants and collaborators, have studied the pandemic impact on food systems and fostered close connections with community networks. Their research has shown the urgent need for knowledge dissemination from the frontlines of the food systems in order to identify problems, improve food access, and advance sustainability. Through the pandemic, food security advocates and local food provisioning networks developed and enacted innovative solutions against considerable logistical and social challenges. Yet those have not proved enough. Our goal is to highlight such voices and connect them to academic and policy insights that will highlight the need for systemic change. The project outcome, a web based open access archive, will feature multimedia materials, such as podcasts, visual materials, and anonymized personal experiences, to preserve, share, and connect such perspectives to existing research on post COVID 19 food systems. This archive will benefit: team members, instructors, students, community organizations, professional networks, and interested members of the public.

Opportunity/Methods: This project will produce a series of 5 events (2 participatory and skills training workshops; 2 colloquiums; 1 experiential learning event) through which team members and student interns will develop an open access, multimedia web archive that explores local food voices, their role in pandemic recovery, the drawbacks of the just-in-time mainstream system, and the local food solutions that the event presenters advocate. This open access archive will be housed on existing web infrastructure connected to team research (). Newly generated archive content will include podcasts featuring interviews with voices from the food frontlines as well as photos, recipes, ephemera, and written reflections from food consumers and producers. Event training sessions on the production of audio, visual, and written narratives will be recorded and preserved within the archive as curricular tools. In sum, the events will lead skill building, showcase the new multimedia content and research connections, and teach scholars and student participants how the archive can support their own iterations of food voices.

Impact: The project will connect international scholars with expertise in food studies, public facing research, and sustainability. It will enable closer ties between the Culinaria Research Centre, Trinity College, Bishop’s, Ryerson, Manchester, and New York Universities, even as its archive connects local-global voices from the food frontlines to interdisciplinary research insights on sustainable food futures.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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