On Nov. 17, leaders will gather in downtown Victoria at the Ambrosia Centre for the annual regional Good Food Summit co-hosted by CRFAIR and the Victoria Foundation. Over 100 organizations, local government, academics, health promoters, funders, farmers, processors, retailers and First Nations will gather to showcase innovation and collaboration to make positive changes in our regional food system.
These folks are part of a growing Good Food Network, an alliance looking to make some significant impacts towards healthy and sustainable food.
Over the past few years they have identified the following goals they are aligning their efforts behind. The first is to stimulate the local food economy, with a goal of shifting the amount of local Island food produced and consumed by CRD residents from five per cent to 25 per cent, by 2025. They are working to learn what this means for the amount of land needed, what we need to do to support new food producers to replace the 50 per cent of farmers who will retire in the next decade, how we rebuild regional storage and distribution infrastructure, and ensure residents understand the value that supporting the local food economy brings.
The second goal is to ensure that all residents have ongoing access to enough nutritious food. The alliance has stated that it wants to decrease food insecurity, or those that do not have access to adequate and appropriate nutritious food, from 14 per cent to 10 per cent by 2025.
There are over 50,000 people in our region who are currently food insecure, and they want to change this. This looks like working to create supports and services to those currently receiving emergency food so that one to two years down the road it will no longer be needed. Strategies include supporting community and neighbourhood-based hubs where people can access food, but also skills training, empowerment programs and finding social connections.
The third goal of the alliance is around food literacy. The Good Food Network wants to double food literacy efforts by 2025.
Aaren Topley, the local co-ordinator for the Farm to School Network, describes food literacy as involving our hands, minds and hearts. “For each of us, our understanding and relationships to our foods is different. Having the knowledge about our food system helps us to make informed choices about our foods. The ability to read labels, prepare and cook food, or food skills is also key.
“Food literacy also involves understanding the personal and cultural connection to our foods. This could be as simple as prioritizing sitting down with our families to share a meal together, or learning about our traditional or cultural food sources and recipes.”
The Good Food Summit is an annual check in about progress, challenges and new opportunities in the region. There will be a fair showcasing 15 innovation stations on food initiatives, workshops, and above all a chance to meet those actively engaged in good food solutions. Everyone is welcome and there will be pie. To see the Good Food Summit program and register, go to www.crfair.ca.
Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.