Sociology students build grassroots volunteer-run initiative to help those in need during COVID-19 pandemic

image of groceriesIn the earliest days of the COVID outbreak, a small collective of people working to support QT/BIPOC (queer and trans, Black and Indigenous People of Colour) communities put out a call through the Caremongering – Toronto Facebook page for other groups to come together and replicate the mutual aid model. Sociology PhD students Andrea Román Alfaro and Paul Pritchard answered the call. They cooked and delivered meals for four straight days and raised funds through their personal networks before joining forces with two other small collectives to become the People’s Pantry. What started out as cooking meals across a few kitchens, the People’s Pantry has expanded considerably over the last few weeks into a much larger community food program.

The People’s Pantry is a grassroots volunteer-run initiative dedicated to safely providing and delivering cooked meals and grocery packages to folks who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Remaining true to its origins as a grassroots political project working within a mutual aid framework, the students worked to expand their community network. There are now over 150 volunteers working across the GTA in various capacities as cooks, bakers, supply shoppers, deliverers, logistic coordinators, outreach and fundraising. They have also collaborated with numerous volunteer organizations across the city and partnered with the Bike Brigade, Maggie’s Toronto, the East Toronto Food Coalition, and Toronto Cares.

The People’s Pantry has raised over 20,000 dollars, and have successfully supported over 600 households with cooked meals and/or grocery packages from various communities across the GTA, including low-income and working-class families, QT/BIPOC, folks with precarious immigration statuses, precariously-housed folks, those living with illness or disabilities, and the elderly.

In addition to Alfaro and Pritchard, over 40 sociology graduate students and alumni have made financial contributions to the People’s Pantry, alongside 10 faculty members. Current graduate students Angela Xu, Jenn Peruniak, and Yuki Tanaka have put their cooking and baking skills to work and produced a steady stream of delicious food. A number of undergraduate students from the Introduction to Sociology course at UTSC have also offered their money and volunteer services.

Other students have used the mutual aid model to give back to specific communities with which they conduct their research. Bahar Hashemi and Paul Pritchard have partnered with an Afghan women’s organization to buy and deliver groceries to individuals in the Persian community who are not able to leave their house or access support because of reasons related to age, health and immigration status.

Recognizing the severe impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had in their communities, these students have reached out to undergraduate and graduate students at UofT, international students and migrant workers, and other communities to provide support. They have done so out of a firm belief that mutual aid is crucial in these times in which neither the government nor UofT has stepped up to provide help to those who most need it.

People wishing to contribute time or money, should visit the People’s Pantry’s Facebook Page or GoFundMe campaign.

Photo credit: Paul Pritchard

U of T at the ASA

This year, 22 faculty members and 25 graduate students from Sociology at the University of Toronto are presenting papers at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociology Association in Montreal. In addition to the people presenting papers, a number of our community are also participating as session organizers, discussants or journal editorial panel members. The meetings happen between August 12th and August 15th. We have listed the papers we’re presenting below in the order of their occurrence, with student presenters shown in italics. Note that some of the papers have unlisted co-authors from other universities. Please refer to the ASA Program for complete information.

Saturday, August 12th

Bill Magee, Optimistic Positivity and Pessimistic Negativity Among American Adults: Effects of Birth-Cohort, Age, Gender, and Race

Jaime Nikolaou, Teen Pregnancy and Doula Care: A Space for Feminist Praxis?

Andrew Nevin, Technological Tethering, Cohort Effects, and the Work-Family Interface

Andreea Mogosanu, Historical Change in Gender Differences in Mastery: The Role of Education and Employment

Ioana Sendroiu and Laura Upenieks, Gender ‘In Practice’: Rethinking the Use of Male Practice Players in NCAA Women’s Basketball

Emine Fidan Elcioglu, The State Effect at the Border: Avoiding Totalizing Theories of Political Power in Migration Studies

Paul Pritchard, A Bifurcated Welcome? Examining the Willingness to Include Seasonal Agricultural Workers in the Host Community

Yukiko Tanaka, Managing Risk, Pursuing Opportunities: Immigration, Citizenship, and Security in Canada

Gordon Brett, Feminist Theory and Embodied Cognition: Bridging the Disciplinary Gap

Mitch McGivor, Inequality in Higher Education: Student Debt, Social Background, and Labour Market Outcomes

Sarah Cappeliez, Wine Nerds and Pleasure-seekers: Understanding Wine Taste Formation and Practice

Katelin Albert, Negotiating State Policy in the Improvised Classroom: An Ethnographic Inquiry into Sexual Health Classrooms

Marie-Lise Drappon-Bisson, Tactical Reproduction in the Pro-Choice Movement in Northern Ireland: Alliance for Choice’s Path Towards Successful Tactics

Milos Brocic, Cultivating Conviction or Negotiating Nuance? Assessing the Impact of Associations on Ideological Polarization

Omar Faruque, Neoliberal Development, Privatizing Nature, and Subaltern Resistance in Bangladesh

Sunday, August 13th

Dan Silver, The Political Order of the City: Neighborhoods and Voting in Toronto, 1997-2014

Andreea Mogosanu and Laura Upenieks, Social Change and the Evolution of Gender Differences in Depression: An Age-Cohort Consideration

Markus Schafer, Religious Attendance Heterogamy and Partnership Quality in Later Life

Atsushi Narisada, Buffering-Resource or Status-Disconfirmation? How Socioeconomic Status Shapes the Relationship between Perceived Under-Reward and Distress

Josee Johnston, On (not) Knowing Where Your Food Comes From: Children, Meat, and Ethical Eating

Ann Mullen, Labored Meanings: Contemporary Artists and the Process and Problems of Producing Artistic Meaning

Lawrence Williams, Dilemmas: Where No Schema Has Gone Before

Patricia Landolt, How Does Multicultural Canada’s Ethnicizing Imperative Shape Latin American Political Incorporation?

Merin Oleschuk, Consuming the Family Meal: News Media Constructions of Home Cooking and Health

Sarah Shah, The Context of Birth Country Gender Inequality on Mental Health Outcomes of Intimate Partner Violence

Louise Birsell-Bauer, Precarious Professionals: Gender Relations in the Academic Profession and the Feminization of Employment Norms

Geoff Wodtke, Regression-based Adjustment for Time-varying Confounders

Monday, August 14th

Markus Schafer, The Role of Health in Late Life Social Inclusion and Exclusion

Kim Pernell, Institutionalized Meaning and Policymaking: Revisiting the Causes of American Financial Deregulation

Cynthia Guzman, Revisiting the Feminist Theory of the State

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Policing Race, Moral Panic and the Growth of Black Prisoners in Canada

David Pettinicchio, Beyond Employment Inequality: Wealth Disparities by Disability Status in Canada and the United States

Yangsook Kim, Good Care in the Elderly Care Sector of South Korea: Gendered Immigration and Ethnic Boundaries

Ioana Sendroiu and Ron Levi, Legality and Exclusion: Discrimination, Legal Cynicism and System Avoidance across the European Roma Experience

Lawrence Williams, Bounded Reflexivity: How Expectations Shape Careers

Irene Boeckmann, Contested Hegemony: Fatherhood Wage Effects across Two U.S. Birth Cohorts

Jennifer Chun and Cynthia Cranford, Becoming Homecare Workers: Chinese Immigrant Women in California’s Oakland Chinatown

Katelin Albert and Steve G. Hoffman, Undone Science and Canadian Health Research

Ronit Dinovitzer, The New Place of Corporate Law Firms in the Structuring of Elite Legal Careers

Melissa Milkie and Scott Schieman, Who Helps with the Homework? Inequity in Parenting Responsibilities and Relationship Quality among Employed Parents

Matthew Parbst, The Impact of Public Opinion on Policy in Cross-National Perspective

Tony Zhang, The Princelings in China: How Do They Benefit from their Red Parents?

Rania Salem, Structural Accommodations of Classic Patriarchy: Women and Workplace Gender Segregation in Qatar

Tuesday, August 15th

Patricia Louie and Blair Wheaton, Revisiting the Black-White Paradox in Mental Disorder in Three Cohorts of Black and White Americans

Jenna Valleriani, Breaking the law for the greater good? Core-stigmatized Organizations and Medical Cannabis Dispensaries in Canada

Martin Lukk, What Kind of Writing is Sociology? Literary Form and Theoretical Integration in the Human Sciences

Jerry Flores, Gender on the Run: Wanted Latinas in a southern California Barrio

Jean-Francois Nault, Determinants of Linguistic Retention: The Case of Ontario’s Francophone Official-Language Minorities

Luisa Farah Schwartzmann, Color Violence, Deadly Geographies and the Meanings of “Race” in Brazil

Jonathan Koltai and Scott Schieman, Financial Strain, Mastery, and Psychological Distress: A Comment on Spuriousness in the Stress Process