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Youth participants learn everything food at first ever Youth Food Festival in Aurora

Free event for youth held at Aurora Cornerstone Community Church Aug. 22
August 26, 2019
Aileen Zangouei

York Region Food Network hosted its first ever Youth Food Festival, an event meant to educate young people about the importance of food.

The festival was held at the Aurora Cornerstone Community Church, 390 Industrial Parkway S., on Aug. 22.

The free event gave youth ages 14 and up an opportunity to try out hands-on cooking workshops and increase their food knowledge.

Speaker Melana Roberts, chair of the executive committee of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, spoke about the importance of food, farming and the issues surrounding food insecurity.

In Canada, four million people are unable to access healthy food for different reasons, one of the main reasons being finances, Roberts said.

In York Region, newcomers are most susceptible to facing food insecurities, and having less access to healthy food.

“It’s not the price of food that’s expensive -- food in Canada is actually pretty cheap -- it’s the other places our finances goes towards,” Roberts said, pointing to rent, mortgages, transportation and student fees as contributing factors as to why households don’t have enough money for healthy food.

“Food is so important that it’s often overlooked in conversations,” Roberts said. “Food industries is actually where many young people get their first jobs.”

Two other speakers educated participants on dietary information, as well as cooking healthy food in the dorm and campus food.

Participants were able to explore the ways in how learning about food skills can be fun and informative through:

The Youth Food Festival is organized by a group of committed teens from across York Region united by a passion to build community.

This event was made possible by Ontario Trillium Foundation through a grant to explore youth interest in food literacy, food advocacy and food systems.

The festival took place from 12:30 to 7 p.m., and participants could enter anytime.

York Region Food Network delivers programs and education to ensure that the people of York Region have healthy and sustainable food. Their vision is “Food for Health -- Food for All.” To learn more, visit