I often wonder what people might say if you ask them the question: What’s your vision for food in your community?
Does it include things like community gardens and orchards, fresh food markets and healthy corner stores, community kitchens, and specialty grocery stores with foods from your home country… what else??
In cities across North America, communities and their local governments are starting to re-define a vision for neighbourhood based food systems. Put simply, it’s imagining communities where access to healthy food extends beyond your standard grocery store, to include a wealth of alternatives such as full-scale farmer’s markets, bus stop food markets, food box programs, urban farms, urban food forests, community food centers, and much more. It’s a vision that encompasses multiple solutions to address varying community needs and desires around food access and the creation of more localized food systems.
In many cases groups are coming together to implement these initiatives in communities where individuals and families are at higher risk of food insecurity. Although the causes of food insecurity are varied (and often complex), it is often tied to issues of food access, both physical and economic. When healthy food simply isn’t available within reasonable distance of a community, or people can’t afford the food that is available, food insecurity can become exacerbated. With this in mind, a vision for “community based food systems” will include a diversity of options for people to grow, sell, eat, and dispose of the foods they need and enjoy.
So let’s get to the point If you live in Halifax there’s something new and awesome coming to your city!
Beginning May 14, 2016 the Mobile Food Market will launch as a 21-week pilot that will use a Halifax Transit bus to deliver fresh produce to the communities of North Preston, East Preston, North End Halifax, Fairview, and Spryfield. The goal of the market is simple: to bring fresh, high quality, culturally appropriate food to communities who need it most. The produce that is selected will be based on residents’ needs and preferences, purchased in bulk and sold at costs that are in line with discount grocery operations.
The Mobile Food Market is a collaborative initiative led by Nova Scotia Health Authority (Public Health, Central zone), Partners for Care, Halifax Regional Municipality, and the Ecology Action Centre. In striving to support healthy, more just and sustainable food systems in Nova Scotia, we’re testing out new approaches for food delivery and access in communities. We know this involves many different players, so have worked to develop partnerships with growers, non profits, businesses, governments and communities. Mobile markets have been successfully introduced in other cities like Ottawa and Toronto, and we’ve been looking to them to understand how they work, and what makes them successful.
At the end of the day, it is our hope that the mobile food market will help to provide community members with better access to nutritious food, however it’s also something that we hope can propel a sense of community pride and belonging. Everyone deserves a vision for food in their community so I encourage you to think about it….
What’s your vision??
~Aimee Carson is a Senior Coordinator with the Our Food Project of the Ecology Action Centre.
Adventures in Local Food is your source for food news in Nova Scotia, from pickles to policy. It is a project organized by the Ecology Action Centre. Learn more about our program at https://www.ecologyaction.ca/ourfood. Follow us on Twitter @ourfoodproject.