On June 16th Kendal Donahue, the City’s Food Strategy Coordinator, presented the Thunder Bay & Area Food Strategy document to Thunder Bay’s City Council where it was unanimously endorsed. Soon after, the Municipalities of Oliver Paipoonge and O’Connor both passed a resolution stating they support the document. Presentations have also been made recently to Neebing and Conmee Councils, who were supportive of the project. In all cases, the enthusiasm for this project has been very encouraging, and has shown that our local councils are well-informed and understand the importance and potential of working together in this way.
This is great news, representing the wrap-up of a phase that’s been ongoing since late June of last year when Kendal joined us, or earlier if you want to include all the planning that went into developing her job description and hiring her to get the ball rolling. For a year, volunteer groups all over the City have come together to address the various goals of the community and hammer out ways to express the various concerns and issues – or Pillars – associated with food and communities.
In the Executive Summary, Food Strategy Steering Committee Co-Chairs Rebecca Johnson and Bernie Kamphof tell us that
The Food Strategy lays out the framework for future actions across the region’s food system, and will be a powerful tool for the area to meet its social, environmental, economic, and health goals. By taking a coordinated approach to all that the area can do in relation to food, the Food Strategy provides a platform for integrating different goals and actions and creating new synergies.
What does this mean in plain English? It means that this document is going to guide City and neighbouring municipalities as they create policy over the coming years that will support the seven Pillars of the Food Strategy, and that the seven Pillars the Strategy has been developed to include address as many of the aspects of food as possible:
- Food Access
GOAL: Create a food system in Thunder Bay and Area based on the principle that food is more than a commodity — that it is a human right—and in which all community members have regular access to adequate, affordable, nutritious, safe and culturally appropriate food in a way that maintains dignity.
- Forest & Freshwater Foods
GOAL: Increase our region’s knowledge of available forest and freshwater foods and their sustainable harvest, protect and conserve forest and freshwater food ecosystems, and support a diverse and sustainable forest and freshwater foods economy within the region. This economy includes both harvesting for personal consumption and the development of commercial opportunities.
- Food Infrastructure
GOAL: To support the creation of a food supply chain that links local production to processing, distribution and marketing, consumption and waste management in ways that sustain the local economy, minimize environmental impact and improve people’s access to healthy food.
- Food Procurement
GOAL: Leverage procurement food spending to develop a public sector food supply chain that contributes to the economic, ecological and social well-being of Thunder Bay and Area through food purchases that foster local production, processing, and
- Food Production
GOAL: Protect and encourage growth in farm-scale production so that a greater proportion of food is grown, raised, prepared, processed, and purchased closer to home.
- School Food Environments
GOAL: Improve the eating habits, food skills and food literacy of children and youth in Thunder Bay and Area through supportive healthy school food environments.
- Urban Agriculture
GOAL: Increase food production in the urban landscape and support the participation of citizens in urban agriculture activities.
After a bit of a summer break the Committee and working groups will be reconvening for the next steps: deciding and pursuing priorities for IMPLEMENTATION. Everything that’s gone on till this point – the planning, the discussions, the community forums – has been about planning. Now we have a guiding document for change, and it’s time to start making things happen. We can’t wait to see what happens next.
Congratulations, Thunder Bay. You’ve come a long way, baby!
Looking to get more involved in the Food Strategy and social change related to food in our area? Visit the Food Strategy’s website where you can download the entire document, and submit your name if you’d like to be on a mailing list or to join one of the working groups.