Joëlle Favreau on the Future of Peterborough

Nourish manager envisions a well-fed community, connected food system

Food insecurity and the possibility of creating an interconnected food system are issues top of mind for Peterborough’s Joëlle Favreau.

The Nourish manager shares food for thought with Electric City Magazine about what she’d like to see for the future in Peterborough.

Electric City Magazine is engaging in conversations about the kind of city, and the kind of future, we want to build. There are many challenges facing this city right now, many ideas about directions the city could go, and many opportunities to build towards those futures.

We are speaking with local community organizers, thought-leaders, advocates, activists and citizens about their visions for the Future of Peterborough. We will be publishing these interviews over the next weeks and months.

Here’s a snapshot of our conversation with Joelle:




What is the problem or possibility in Peterborough that is most alive for you right now?

The issue that is really important to me is that we are dealing with a crisis, locally, when it comes to food insecurity.

Every year (Peterborough Public Health) publishes a report to look at the cost of a healthy food basket. They document the cost and then they compare that with scenarios — for example, someone on Ontario Works, someone on ODSP or a family on minimum wage, just to get a sense of if they are able to afford that food.

With the data that they’ve collected, what we know is that overall, people in Peterborough city and county are facing a 16.5 per cent rate of food insecurity.

When you drill more deeply into the average, what you see is that families with children under the age of 18 are facing a much higher rate of food insecurity, it’s 29.9 per cent.

When you look further, in female-led households, one in two is food-insecure.

That is what drives the work that I do. I feel that it is obscene in a community that is fairly wealthy and a country that is wealthy that one in two female-led households is not able to put good food on their table with dignity.

Infographic developed by Peterborough Public Health.


What commitment do you hold that makes this important to you?

The issue for me is justice. It’s always been core to all the work that I’ve done. I mentioned how I feel that we are a wealthy country and I think that everyone in the community and every one of our neighbours deserves to feed themselves well.

That to me, is really core, and that’s what really drives the work that I’m doing.


What would you like to see happen next?

I would like to see that everyone is able to feed themselves and their families well and with dignity.

If we create a food system that is based on the health of the producers, the health of the consumers, the health of community, and the health of our planet, you can see how that would shift things radically.

You think about kids going to school hungry. How are they able to start thinking and learning?

In many ways, food is a really interesting entry point into issues around equity. Right now, we can see clearly the connection between food and health. But that’s really just one component.

Food connects people to one another and food is also connected to our identity.

Food can be a great starting point for having conversations. Food brings people together.

Food is also very strongly connected to the economy — food production, food growing and distribution. There are a lot of jobs related to food.

There’s also the fact that food is so connected to the environment. We’re starting to hear more and more about sustainable diets and how we grow and distribute food impacts the environment.

Food is a really interesting entry point because it’s connected to so many sectors of the community.

Infographic developed by Peterborough Public Health.


What steps are you able to take in that direction?

Through Nourish, we are trying to get people to look at food from those different angles and also to raise awareness about the fact that so many of our neighbours are not able to eat well.

What I would love to see happen is to see a food system that is based on health and belonging. If we had those two lenses at the core of our food system, I think we could start seeing things very differently.

I think it would lead to the creation of a very transformed food system. If we create a food system that is based on the health of the producers, the health of the consumers, the health of community, and the health of our planet, you can see how that would shift things radically.


If there was anything you would like, want, or need from the community what would it be?

Because food and community go so well together, I’d like to see more community members come together to talk about food and (see) how critical it is to all of us.

Right now, I feel we have a runaway food system and I really feel that most people don’t think about food in terms of a system. But when you bring people together and start talking about that, you can see a lot of people say… it makes sense.

I’d like to see the community come on board for those conversations and collectively imagine a radically-different approach.

To learn more about Nourish, visit:



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