Working Together to Develop a Regional Food Charter
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.
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Be sure to follow this page to see updates, future input session dates, and news coverage.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Community Specific Activities
Look below to find out what’s scheduled in your community/ area and where we’ve been. To register for upcoming sessions in your community, please register here for a session happening closest to you!
Up coming sessions/ presentations:
Sioux Lookout & Dryden:
- Dryden Regional Health Centre – July 5th
- Eagle Lake First Nation – Date TBD
- Rainy River – June 26th
- Devlin – June 26th
- Fort Frances – June 27th
- Fort Frances – June 28th
- Emo – June 29th
Past sessions/ presentations:
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.
What are some clear priorities so far?
- 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.
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 so far?
- 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.
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.
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: