Congratulations to City of Vancouver food policy staff for creating such a well-crafted Vancouver Food Strategy.
The Neighbourhood Food Networks (NFNs) are also featured prominently in this report crediting the valuable work of the food networks in helping to mobilize, educate, and empower community members around food issues as well as the Food Strategy for recognizing the enormous potential to engage the grassroots, civil society and community members in food security.
Bringing diverse stakeholders with varying interest areas together with the City to tackle food issues in a coordinated comprehensive way is to be applauded.
We along with other NFNs take a strong public health and food equity approach in our work. We say food is a human right for all. While this is certainly a dominant agenda in our work at the GWFC and with health care costs perhaps one of the most critical agendas we are facing, we also work to address many issues together – hunger, health, inclusion, sustainability, this being the beauty of community food development.
Obviously we are pleased to see the strategy recognizing the importance of health and food justice within the broader food systems context often dominated by talk about local agriculture and organics but the Food Strategy nicely supports a balance of agendas.
The strategy will help us all better understand the connections within holistic food systems approach, and provide food security in general and groups like the NFNs a legitimacy that is needed to set priorities in times of fiscal constraint. We will also be interested to see how the province may help to support this strategy as even still, food security programming is woefully underfunded at the provincial level.
But maybe it is at the local level where such policy frameworks have the greatest impact, where the community sector has the greatest voice and involvement, where we can best engage community. It has been suggested that NFN work is much more about community engagement practice than food security. Certainly a good point, it all starts with engagement.
The Food Strategy speaks to the very important function that social or human capital plays as an indicator of public health. Community development programs at the neighbourhood level that bring people together to better their life circumstance create social change and all are very important goals and this is fundamental to priority action area Empowering Residents as part of the Strategy
There is a lot in the strategy of importance to the NFNs to work on. Things like better, more accessible kitchens, food storage, improved linkages with growers, distributers and retailers, more efficient food recovery, increased staffing and resources, improving healthy eating at our community centres, improved communications and outreach are just some of the many action areas in the Strategy.
So it is with tremendous appreciation that I have for this strategy that supports the work of the Food Networks. I am grateful and feel privileged to be a part of the Vancouver Food Strategy.
To read the full Vancouver Food Strategy