Kenora & Rainy River Districts Food Charter

Working Together to Develop a Regional Food Charter

Background:

In partnership with Lakehead University’s Food Security Research Network, Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU), municipalities, and other key partners across the region, CLFC is currently working to develop a food charter for the Kenora & Rainy River Districts. This document will encourage policy and commitment to support local foods, and will emphasize a collaborative, regional approach to collectively address challenges and leverage assets. Local policy is needed to align municipal level commitment with provincial objectives for increased Ontario food sales. Strengthened policy is critical to ensuring continued support for local foods in our district, and to overcome key barriers to growth in the agricultural sector.

A food charter is a value, vision, or principle statement, and/or series of goals, written by a city, town or region that has a broad base of support and describes what a community wants their food system to look like. It is a “reference document” for municipal decision makers. A food charter raises awareness and education about food issues, and forms a basis for action. A regional food charter can provide a platform for connecting existing local food projects across municipalities. (North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, 2014)

A regional food charter can highlight collective goals of the municipalities within a region, which can lead to a regional collaboration in identifying strategies to address the issues regarding local food production. (Best Practices in Local Food: A Guide For Municipalities. p 39 )

For an example, see Thunder Bay’s Food Charter.

Click here to learn more about CLFC in your community.

Be sure to follow this page to see updates, future input session dates, and news coverage.


Gathering Input: Community Input Sessions

*As of August, we have officially completed the input gathering portion of the project! Thanks to all who participated and be on the look out for our survey to continue the development of the charter*

To create a full picture of what the vision for food in our communities is, CLFC and our partners (such as the NWHU) are out in the area reaching out to community members, councils, organizations and clubs. These input sessions are an opportunity for individuals and organizations to share their priorities as they related to food and food related issues in our region, and to identify challenges they see in their community for creating a sustainable and thriving local food system. We are working to gather input through these sessions until the end of June.

What do these input sessions entail? Our co-ordinators can book sessions with interested participants at their convenience. These networking and brainstorming sessions work best in larger groups (usually 10-20 people). With groups of this size, we like to leave 1-2 hours to complete the sessions and have meaningful conversations. However, the sessions can be flexible and we can accommodate different group sizes and time availability.

Brainstorming at a Kenora community input session
Brainstorming at a Kenora community input session

Issues like access to healthy, affordable foods, culturally appropriate foods for all, environmental protection for wild harvested plants and game, addressing food insecurity, and education about food production and healthy eating are all important issues that have come up in our sessions so far.

We will be hosting sessions until the end of June and are looking to gather as much information as we can before then. If you think you have a group of people, or are part of an organization that has something to contribute, we’d like to hear from you! This is your opportunity to share your vision and voice when it comes to the future of food in your community. Make sure your values are included in this picture by participating in an input session in your community. We’d be happy to provide you with more information on this project and schedule a session with you. To connect with a coordination in your community, please email nwo@cloverbeltlocalfoodcoop.com.


Gathering Input: Open Online Survey

In order to clearly identify the vision of the charter, we are circulating an open survey. This survey allows community governments, organizations, institutions, and members to add their input to what has been discussed at community input sessions. Click here to fill out the survey and provide your voice to the development of the food charter.


Community Specific Activities:

 Kenora/Ear Falls/Red Lake:

Two general open community sessions have been held at the Lake of the Woods Discovery Center in Kenora in April. Other input sessions have also been held at Ear Fall’s Health Center, Beaver Brae Secondary School, the North Western Health Unit, the Minto Family Resource Center, Women’s Place, Kenora Chiefs Advisory, and the Ne-chee Friendship Center. We also had the opportunity to meet with Kenora City Council to present CLFC and the food charter in early September.

What are some clear priorities identified?

  • Addressing logistical and transportation barriers for regional food producers;
  • Promotion of teachings on traditional knowledge of Anishinabee food and related teachings;
  • Access to healthy, affordable and accessible foods.;
  • Protection of land’s health to maintain ability to hunt, fish, and harvest wild foods;
  • Increase income levels to increase accessibility to food.

Sioux Lookout/Dryden:

General open community sessions have been held in both Sioux Lookout and Dryden. Sessions in Sioux Lookout have also been held at the Meno-Ya-Win Hospital, Sioux Mountain Public School, and with the Sioux Lookout Chamber of Commerce members. In Dryden, we’ve met specifically with the Kenora District Soil and Crop Improvement Association and the Chamber of Commerce.

What are some clear priorities identified?

  • Access to healthy, affordable, local, culturally appropriate food for all;
  • Preservation of natural resources to protect wild harvested foods;
  • Continuation of cultural teachings on living off of the land, and to teach children about gardening, agriculture, and healthy eating/ meal cooking;
  • Increase of community initiatives (community gardens, greenhouses, educational programming) to strengthen local food production;
  • Limitations of transportation and associated increase of cost of goods/ services.

Rainy River District:

A session was held in Atikokan where community members discussed challenges like remoteness and high costs of local foods to achievement a sustainable local food system. Many sessions have also been held in the Emo, Fort Frances, and Rainy River areas.

What are some clear priorities identified?

  • Encouraging and supporting local agriculture;
  • Maintaining the local abattoir;
  • Providing education regarding growing, preserving, and eating healthy food.

Food Charter in the News!

News of  the food charter is spreading far and wide. Check out the updates and stories covered in our region so far on the development of the food charter:

CLFC Food Charter Update – April 28th

Sioux Lookout Bulletin Session Coverage – April, 2017

CLFC Food Charter Press Release – May 15th (picked up by Kenora Online and the Northwest Link in Thunder Bay)

Fort Frances Times Coverage of Community Input Sessions – June 28th

CKDR Coverage of Kenora City Council Presentation – September 7th 

CLFC Food Charter Update – September 10th

Kenora Daily Miner and News Coverage of Charter – September 12th

CKDR Coverage of Survey – November 16th