North Shore Food Charter Draft Process

Proceedings of the Annual Forum, November 22nd 2012

Introduction
Over the last 4 years, Table Matters, the food security network on the North Shore has held annual forums to engage stakeholders in moving the food system on the North Shore towards greater food security.

The focus of the forum held in November 2012 aimed at gathering input from the public about their values related to food.  These values would form the basis for drafting a food charter for the North Shore.

A food charter has been identified by other municipalities and regions as a key policy tool for advancing food security.  When a municipal food charter is endorsed by local governments, municipal staff will then have a mandate to support communities in working towards food security.

The charter will be presented to the 5 municipalities on the North Shore with the hope that it will be adopted and become a tri-municipal charter for the North Shore.

This would pave the way for a more formalized arrangement, for example a food policy council that would address food security issues for the North Shore.

The Participants
Notice of the forum was circulated widely through existing networks and posters placed in strategic locations such as neighbourhood coffee shops, grocery stores, recreation centres and transportation hubs eg. Seabus terminal.

Particular effort was made to attract youth, ethnic communities and families in low income.

The forum was attended by 165 participants from the Bowen Island, City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, Lions Bay, Vancouver and West Vancouver.

Over 50% of participants were new to the Table Matters network.

The Process
At the forum, attendees were asked 3 questions:

  1. What is important around food at the individual, household and family level?
  2. What is important around food at the neighbourhood or municipal level?
  3. What is important around food at the regional, provincial or federal level?

Attendees were grouped around 14 tables where, with the help of a facilitator, they shared their values in response to the above 3 questions.  All responses recorded and brought back to the working group who then synthesized the information into themes.

The Discussion
Twenty – two (22) initial themes emerged from synthesis of the discussion.  These are presented below in order of priority, along with examples of the discussion that led to that theme.  The themes represent “clusters” of similar responses as well as any response that was mentioned only once.

1.  Prioritizing the importance of nutritious food to health

  • Tax policies to make healthier food more affordable than “junk” food
  • Health promotion around healthy eating and what unhealthy eating costs us
  • Food to be acknowledged as medicine

2.  Creating a community culture around food

  • Community space where a culture around food can be built; culture to include sharing information, skills, equipment, meals, celebrations
  • Bringing people together around food
  • Cooperative concept for building gardens, raising chickens to help defray costs

3.  Government transparency about all aspects of the food system

  • Labeling to show source of food, what is in it, how it is grown and processed
  • Understanding the true price of food
  • Transparency in the federal agricultural practices including agreements, marketing etc

4.  Access to fresh, local food close to home

  • Access to fresh, local food close to home
  • Farmer’s markets/indoor farmer’s market
  • All government facilities should contract to local (define local) farmers

5.  Recycling, reclaiming, repurposing surplus food and food waste

  • Recycling, reclaiming, repurposing food waste
  • Reclaiming surplus food for distribution

6.  Access to education and skills training on all aspects of food

  • Access to knowledge and skills training on all aspects of food ie food literacy
  • Utilizing sharing of meals and food share programs for education around food
  • Self sufficient, backyard gardening, programs to share to grow different things
  • Elders passing knowledge to children

7.  Access to affordable, high quality, healthy food for all

  • Affordable, high quality (unprocessed), healthy food for all
  • Government to assume responsibility for ensuring that all Canadians have (access to healthy food)

8.  Municipal policies and education that facilitate land use for food production

  • Policies for encouraging, finding, repurposing land and build environments for growing/raising food
  • Educate community to all more acceptance of decreasing lawns and increasing food gardens
  • Municipal land and equipment for growing food

9.  Food system to operate in a manner that protects and sustains the environment

  • Food to be treated with respect throughout the food system
  • Regularized review of water and soil policies
  • Seed banks

10. Food to be grown and raised in environmentally sustainable and humane ways

  • Policies to protect consuming endangered species eg. shark fin soup
  • Traditional systems of rain forest and ocean
  • Packaging is too much (plastic/boxes) waste

11. Access to whole, fresh, unadulterated  food

  • Whole food, close to natural, free of additives or modification
  • Incentives to ban GMO at municipal level
  • Environmental and health issues around use of pesticides

12. Government regulations to promote and foster food security

  • Address government regulations that interfere with food security
  • Foods deserts – need grocery stores

13. Government to promote and foster farming as a viable profession

  • Urban farm model as a viable business
  • Make growing on small farms economically viable
  • Policies to make farming a viable profession for young farmers

14. Educating children to respect and be literate in all aspects of food

  • Children to be taught respect for food and to be literate in all aspects of food system
  • Educating children about all aspects of food

15. People to have a voice about food in their municipalities

  • Food needs to be on the municipal agenda; people need a voice
  • Food charter
  • Consumers can drive demand in supermarkets; need to partner with supermarkets

16. Government procedures and policies that ensure safe food

  • Provincial municipal safety
  • Safety inspection

17. Protection of the ALR

  • Protect agricultural land from development

18. Right to healthy food

  • Healthy food to be a human right

19. Connecting food to all other municipal issues

  • Food is a connector and is connected to all other municipal issues
  • Biking routes to places where food is grown

20. Collaboration between all government levels that have jurisdiction over food related issues

  • Communications between parties: eg. West Vancouver, district and city
  • Better connections between Provincial governments

21. Alignment of food safety regulations with food security goals

  • Food safety regulations barrier to food production;  eg. home baking not allowed at preschools

22. Inclusion of food needs in disaster preparedness

  • Disaster preparedness

The Principles

The above 22 themes were further synthesized to the following 5 overarching themes or principles:

1.  Health, Access and Equality

  • Prioritizing the importance of nutritious food to health
  • Access to fresh, local food close to home
  • Access to affordable, high quality, healthy food for all
  • Access to whole, fresh, unadulterated  food
  • Right to healthy food

2.  Environmental Responsibility

  • Recycling, reclaiming, repurposing surplus food and food waste
  • Food system to operate in a manner that protects and sustains the environment
  • Food to be grown and raised in environmentally sustainable and humane ways
  • Protection of the ALR

3.  Government Leadership and Collaboration

  • Government transparency about all aspects of the food system
  • Municipal policies and education that facilitate land use for food production
  • Government regulations to promote and foster food security
  • Government procedures and policies that ensure safe food
  • Connecting food to all other municipal issues
  • Collaboration between all government levels that have jurisdiction over food related issues
  • Alignment of food safety regulations with food security goals
  • Inclusion of food needs in disaster preparedness

4.  Economic Vitality

  • Government to promote and foster farming as a viable profession

5.  Community Culture and Education

  • Creating a community culture around food
  • Access to education and skills training on all aspects of food
  • Educating children to respect and be literate in all aspects of food
  • People to have a voice about food in their municipalities

The Charter
These 5 principles became the framework of a draft charter for the North Shore.

The Next Steps
The draft of the charter will be presented to the public for feedback at a follow up meeting on February 04, 2013.
Feedback will be incorporated into final charter and a process for endorsement will be determined.

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