North Vancouver city offers unanimous support for food charter
Already a leader in municipal urban agriculture initiatives, the City of North Vancouver is now taking a wider lens to the food system.
On June 11, city council unanimously supported the creation of a food charter and a food policy advisory committee.
Presenting to council was Heather Johnstone, coordinator of the Edible Garden Project, the group that runs Loutet Farm and a host of other urban agriculture projects on the North Shore. A food charter, she explained, would work as a unifying document, bridging the work already being done in the area by groups such as the New Hope Kitchen at the Salvation Army, which works to divert food from waste streams, and the community gardens monitored by the Edible Garden Project.
In addition to council’s support, the development of a food charter and advisory body has been backed by a host of groups including the North Shore Fruit Tree Project, the North Shore Neighbourhood House and both the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations.
A critical component to a food charter is the recognition that not all in the community may have access to locally grown, healthy food, said Johnstone. Physical ailments may prevent some residents from getting to certain types of food, while others may not be able to afford healthier fare. Compounding the problem is rising oil prices which also alters the cost of food.
Food systems, she said, are comprehensive spectrums encompassing the way food is produced, processed, distributed, consumed and disposed of.
In 2007, Vancouver established a food policy council. Kamloops, Quesnel and the Shushwap region, amongst numerous other cities across the country, have similar councils.
Typically, such bodies engage in public awareness campaigns, education programs and host forums on various topics, but food policy councils have also advised on policy formation and implementation.
“An advisory body helps ensure broad engagement in the development of a food charter. It has to reflect the community,” Johnstone told The Outlook.
“It won’t live if only politicians are brought into the document.”
Johnstone plans to approach each North Shore municipality to participate. No planning sessions have yet been scheduled, but in her presentation to city council Johnstone said the annual Table Matters event, a gathering of local food policy enthusiasts, could be the forum to discuss the details of both the food charter and the advisory body.