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Project 101

Challenge Question

How can social procurement be directed towards transformation in the community?

Partner: York Region Food Network

Project Summary

Social procurement leverages the purchasing power of individuals and institutions to support local, social enterprises and boost the local economy. It has emerged as a key solution to address exacerbating inequities over the past year and a half, as it takes a strength-based approach to harness the assets within communities themselves. As consumers, it can simply mean buying local or supporting social enterprises. Institutions can also harness their purchasing power and procure goods and services from local, socially minded initiatives instead of contracting large corporations. Doing so does not mean spending more, rather redirecting money that is already being spent to sources that build up communities rather than outsourcing. The more demand for such social enterprises, the more that vulnerable groups, such as racialized women, can find more employment opportunities. 

For this project a research team will address the lack of infrastructure or understanding of social procurement among stakeholders. Although we have seen our regional governments develop social procurement policies, communities on the ground are largely unaware of the concept, how they could utilize or access social procurement practices, and the potential benefits for their own operations. We want to prepare communities for the implementation of regional social procurement policies by building a toolkit, so communities have a better understanding of ways to get involved in this space. This toolkit will include a local resource directory and will be tailored to suit the needs of both aspiring entrepreneurs, the social services sector and institutions. Developing this toolkit and building a stronger local understanding will ensure that broad-scale policies have stronger implementation.

Through collective impact work in York Region, social procurement has emerged as an important way to address the issue of employment and precarious work, while also ensuring that those who are getting left behind in the traditional labour market, gain access to more opportunities. Developing the infrastructure of social procurement in York Region will help to address many of the challenges facing our communities after a year and a half of the pandemic, including mental health, social isolation, job creation and income insecurity.

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Sustainable Development Goals

Organizational Profile

York Region Food Network seeks to be an acknowledged and respected centre for the promotion of food security – a healthy, accessible and sustainable food system in York Region. In support of this vision, YRFN works to raise public awareness on the many issues affecting food security such as affordable housing, adequate employment, education, accessible childcare and social assistance policies through programming, outreach and advocacy initiatives.

Partner Website

Learn more about the kind of work the project partner does by browsing their website.

Additional Resources

Key Words

  • community