Well, if you ask me, it’s an exciting time to be involved in food work! As discussed in this blog, a National Food Policy is in the works (after approximately 30 long years of work towards that goal!). Food Secure Canada (FSC), a pan-Canadian alliance of organizations and individuals working together to advance food security and food sovereignty, has made extra efforts to ensure that individuals from across the country were able to contribute to this consultative process. FSC developed a community conversation toolkit and made it available to organizations in hopes that they would host those kinds of conversations. The Ecology Action Centre’s Food Team hosted one of these conversation on August 24th at Dalhousie University and gathered feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders. FSC is gathering feedback from all of those discussions and embedding it into their final report to the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada about the National Food Policy.
Similarly, there’s been a lot of activity around poverty reduction lately regionally, provincially and nationally. The Halifax United Way has led the work to develop a Poverty Reduction Strategy for Halifax Regional Municipality. This work convened 6 action groups – including a Food Security Solutions Task Team! The final report from this work is due to be released this month. For more information, see the United Way website. In its 2017-2018 Business Plan, the NS Department of Community Services stated an intended outcome ‘Clients are able to meet their basic needs’ and identified the development of a blueprint to break down poverty in Nova Scotia as an intended action. The federal government has expressed a committed to develop a National Poverty Reduction Strategy as well – see here for more information.
On a regional scale, within Halifax, the Halifax Food Policy Alliance (HFPA) has been moving forward with a draft Food Charter for Halifax. Here is an overview of public engagement activities which took place on October 30, 2017. Since that time, HFPA has held an engagement session with HALIFAX municipal staff as well. HFPA hopes to move by working with HALIFAX towards a food strategy to improve food security and food systems in our region. At the same time, conversations are happening in other parts of the province about policy tools such as Charters and about initiatives like the Mobile Food Market. And in Southeast New Brunswick, a Food Pledge has been created to engage individuals and organizations in regional food security – see here for more information.
The Halifax Food Policy Alliance has developed several policy backgrounder documents to communicate important information, issues and opportunities to key decision makers. The documents can be found here and cover these topics:
- Municipalities and Community Food Security;
- Urban Agriculture for Community Food Security;
- Healthy Food Procurement for Community Food Security; and
- Healthy Food Retail for Community Food Security
The Food Team staff at Ecology Action Centre have had a chance to meet with a number of federal, provincial and municipal politicians in recent months to discuss food security opportunities and initiatives. We re hopefuly that these conversations are putting food on the radar of decision-makers and will help MAKE FOOD MATTER!
In recent news, this week Nova Scotia announced that it will be doubling annual funding for school breakfast programs. The Mobile Food Market is Halifax has recently received support to explore expanding to other communities while enhancing its sustainability to continue making affordable healthy food available.
There are a lot of exciting things happening. It feels like a very good time to be involved in food work and hopefully soon, it will be a great time for food security in our communities.