Our efforts are paying off! Farm to Cafeteria Canada has been working behind the scenes with representatives from diverse sectors right across the country to support the introduction and adoption of policy that will get more local foods into our public institutions. Last June, we were delighted to support the introduction of bill C-539 in the House of Commons calling for a Promotion of Local Food Act. Last November, we were pleased to share the news that Ontario had passed into law a Local Food Act – setting the bar high for political leaders at all levels. Today we are thrilled to support a bill calling for a Local Food Act in British Columbia.
Each of these Acts have similar central goals – reinforcing the promotion of local foods to domestic markets and supporting the production, processing, distribution and procurement of such foods to be served in our public institutions. Importantly, each stipulates a non-partisan approach, each requests leadership from the Ministry of Agriculture and/or the Ministry of Health, and each stipulates the need for meaningful consultation with key actors in the farm to cafeteria movement.
“Farm to Cafeteria Canada has been observing the hub of activity in Ontario with the passage of the Local Food Act”, said Joanne Bays, National Manager Farm to Cafeteria Canada. There is a fantastic array of activities underway to grow and strengthen Ontario’s food system –from the establishment of local food hubs, to growth in the number of farm to school, campus, and healthcare Initiatives. While the full impact of this law remains to be seen, we are already reviewing reports that demonstrate these initiatives have had positive health, social, and economic outcomes”, said Bays.
“In Manitoba, a growing number of institutions are continuing to show interest in purchasing local and sustainable foods, particularly schools and after school programs”, said Leanne Dunne, Local Procurement Coordinator at Food Matters Manitoba. “A two year pilot project entitled Manitoba on the Menu is helping us to understand what is currently being purchased from local institutions, what could be purchased from local and sustainable producers, and celebrating leaders in our community. It is so inspiring to see the introduction of Canadian laws that will shape and support positive changes in our food system, a step in the right direction!”
Farm to School BC Provincial Coordinator, Vanessa Perrodou, sees a BC Local Food Act as “…being pivotal to the development of sustainable regional food systems across the province of BC.” Farm to School BC is a diverse and expanding provincial network that promotes, supports, and links Farm to School activity, policy and programs across the province, connecting schools to nearby farmers, fishers, and harvesters in order to bring locally grown, nutritious, safe and culturally appropriate foods into schools, and to increase the local food literacy among children and school communities.
Steve Golob, Chef at the University of British Columbia’s Place Vanier Dining Hall, says “A Local Food Act for BC is a good thing”. According to Golob “A university setting is a living laboratory. As a chef, it is important that we also teach students that food is a medicine. It not only feeds their stomachs but also their minds and souls. Our duty as chefs is to use local fresh, and seasonal ingredients when ever possible. This bill can only make our jobs easier”.
“Farm to Cafeteria Canada will be watching closely as these two new bills are debated in national and provincial government arenas”, reports Bays. “Our political leaders tell us that they understand food is central to the health of Canadians, our communities, our environment, and our economy. They tell us that Canadians who live, work, learn, and are healed in our public institutions deserve the highest quality foods possible. This is their opportunity to sign into law bills that would ensure such food is available in our public institutions – nutritious, sustainably produced, minimally processed and packaged, foods from nearby farms and waters.”, said Bays.
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Joanne Bays, National Manager Farm to Cafeteria Canada