caterToronto is a network of creative and collaborative caterers, transitioning from a "social enterprise" non-profit model that is seeking better social and economic outcomes with dignified, diverse, and delicious food employment and entrepreneurship.
We are unique and exceptional because of our integrative hands-on approaches to build and strengthen connections for healthier community food systems with our membership and all of YOU!
We started seeding an idea for caterToronto in 2013, with funding support from Metcalf Foundation for Vanessa Ling Yu (founder and director) to coordinate a network of community-based caterers for better socioeconomic opportunities. Incoming requests for catering provided the impetus to address ongoing challenges as a social enterprise. After grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, we realized that we needed new structures to continue our work. The pivot from a non-profit model to a charity model amplifies the necessary work we've been doing to advocate for better food work, and helps us to foster a more holistic, sustainable in approach. We are grateful for our ongoing supporters from across the Greater Toronto Area.
Learn more about our Strategic Planning Process here:
Who is caterToronto's Executive Director, Vanessa Ling Yu?
Vanessa Ling Yu is one of the leading voices in Toronto's food justice movement, advocating for better food work, community health, and inclusive and sustaible local food economies. She weaves together an expansive background of working across health, hospitality, and social services sectors to promote community well-being through training and capacity building, participatory action research, and economic development. Through her work with cTo, Vanessa creates strategic partnerships that bring together public and private interests to forge market opportunities and workforce development initiatives.
Vanessa’s academic background includes an MHSc in Public Health - Health Promotion from the University of Toronto and an MA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. She continues to hone her research interests in ethnography to contribute to public policy dialogue regarding key societal issues, which are often invisible and yet in plain view through the unequal outcomes of health, economic, and food systems.
She serves on numerous boards and committees to improve social enterprise, food & farming, inclusive design, and the ways in which the people of Toronto connect with the BIPOC communities who grow and make the foods we love to eat.
A future where food work is valued and fulfilling for all so that people who work with food have an active say in the future of our food.
Our mission is to increase awareness of, opportunities for, and participation in dignified food work, through our network, training, advocacy, and supports so that we can all move towards a better food system.
1. We define foodwork differently. Foodwork is socially constituted and is “neighbourhoods-based”.
2. BIPOC to the front!
3. We believe in an intersectional approach and thus, we believe in wider stakeholder engagement that includes those with lived experience.
4. Food justice cannot move forward without dignified foodwork. Dignified foodwork is possible and already happening. More!
5. Transformative justice. We practice what we preach and we lead by example. We live the future we believe in.