WE THINK SO.
There’s no doubt that communities across Nova Scotia are mobilizing around food, and creating pockets of food resiliency that model new ways of how we grow, purchase and eat good food. And in some cases, these grassroots initiatives are working to transform neighbourhoods.
While people are working hard at the ground level to improve the quality and availability of our food, there is a growing movement to integrate healthy and sustainable food into city policy. According to a recently published paper, municipalities across Canada and North America are playing a significant role in shaping healthy food initiatives across urban communities. It Canadian cities alone, 64 food policy initiatives are underway in different jurisdictions. WhooHoo! Unfortunately, none of these are in Nova Scotia, and we think the time is ripe.
So WHAT IS a Food Strategy anyway?!
A food strategy is like a road-map to creating a healthy, sustainable and just food system. It looks at how we produce, distribute, access, and dispose of food, and helps to create a common vision and plan of action for a region. It is achieved through a comprehensive approach that brings together many actors in the food arena including city planners, health practitioners, policy makers, and community residents. Municipal buy-in and support is critical to success, and there are many models within cites that are working to implement comprehensive food policies.
And how can we MAKE THIS HAPPEN?
Conversations around a food strategy for HRM have been popping up across the city for many years, and more recently at the NS Food Gathering in May of 2013. Following this, the HRM Food Strategy Working Group held its first official meeting which drew a dynamic mix of citizens, students, organizations, researchers, health departments and representatives from HRM. Over the course of the past 6 months, a smaller team of people has been working to clarify our work, and various levels of engagement for the wider public.
Here’s what we’re planning to work on now, and into the future:
(1) development of an HRM-wide food assessment
(2) development of a Community Food Assessment tool kit that can be used by communities in assessing their local food environments;
(3) a VISION for food in the HRM (aka the Food Charter);
(4) a PLAN OF ACTION (aka the Food Strategy)
ENGAGE in the dialogue, and GET INVOLVED!
The HRM Food Strategy Group is open and evolving, and there’s plenty of room to get involved! For regular updates, check on our Facebook page, or have your email added to our list-serve by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear from you!
Author: Aimee Carson. Community Food Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre