November 8, 2022 - Community cooks as local heroes? Feeding City explores Scarborough's food frontlines with 5n2's Seema David

Jayeeta (Jo) Sharma

Abstract: Since 2010, the Scarborough Mirror and its readers have recognized Scarborough's urban heroes, who ranged from retired teachers to community sports advocates. During the pandemic food crises of 2020, Scarborough soup kitchen 5n2 and its director Seema David, also received this accolate. Yet, by a searing irony, in those same newspaper pages, one went on to read about the struggles of those feted heroes to be able to continue with the 3,500 meals a week that fed so many of their neighbours. In the fall of 2022, the need for those meals - has exponentially gone up. So has the assistance from other community groups that loosely came together as the Scarborough Food Network. The Feeding City team invites us all to reflect on the heroic role of these community cooks against the backdrop of our 'broken food system', and what we as a university community could, and should do.

Jayeeta (Jo) Sharma: Associate Professor of History, Food Studies, and Global Asia Studies at U of T Scarborough, in its Historical & Cultural Studies Department, and at the Culinaria Research Centre. She is also an Associate of Trinity College University. She directs the Feeding City SF3 research lab which conducts projects such as the Social Science and Humanities Research Council funded Resilient Urban Communities and Local Food Systems’ global research partnership. She is the co-lead of the Sustainable Food and Farming Futures Cluster of Scholarly Prominence at U of T Scarborough. She is an elected Board Member of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), a member of the Editorial Collective of Global Food History, co-editor of the Culinaria food book series at the University of Toronto Press, and editor of the Empires in Perspective history book series for Routledge. Jo is a member of the Scarborough Food Network, a network that brings together several community organizations that work on food security and food advocacy issues, including 5n2.

Seema David: 5n2 Founder and Director of 5n2 Kitchens, an organization dedicated to feeding under-resourced newcomers in Scarborough since 2013. Today, 5n2 serves 3,500 meals every week through 13 organizations. It also assembles grocery hampers, a community pantry, and a community garden.

Seema David

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Great Explorations, is a series of academic discussions we hope will inspire our communities. Our special thanks to our engaged, critical thinkers who attend our speaker series. The dialogues that came out of these talks, both in-person and online via Zoom, are integral to our campus community and Scarborough communities at large. We welcome your input for future topics, as well as a review of previous recorded sessions available on YouTube.