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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Policies Impacting Food Security in BC

There have been some giant strides in BC to address food insecurity in recent times. These include funding community programs like food banks, community kitchens, food box and community gardens, supporting local farmers' markets and many more.

Successful Initiatives 

The 'Buy BC Program' has been run by the BC Agricultural Council as a successful provincial labelling initiative that enables consumers to identify locally grown agricultural products. The government has invested $6 million in the 'Buy Local Program' helping BC farmers and food producers promote their food products. 

The City of Vancouver is taking measures to support procurement of locally sustainably produced food. Since a couple of years there has also been a pilot project to offer locally sourced foods at Vancouver park and beach concession stands. The Vancouver Food Policy Council (VPFC) is doing further work to put the spotlight on food security, health & well being. The City of Burnaby is also initiating measures to encourage healthy, local food procurement in public buildings.

The Vancouver School Board in partnership with organizations such as think eat green Canada is encouraging food gardens, composting, cooking skills development in schools as well as development of nutritional school meals programs. Burnaby Food First is currently working with school students to support development of more edible gardens in the schools of Burnaby.

ALR for farmland protection


In 2014 the BC Liberal government overhauled the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) creating two zones that will make it easier for non agricultural development on protected farmland outside the most productive regions as reported in the media. The ALR was established in 1973 to protect farmland and relevant concerns have been raised in news reports in the last couple of years to improve protection against external threats

Burnaby Food First has also advocated greater protection of agricultural land through suitable government policies in a recent letter to the ministry of Agriculture. The salient points in this letter were as follows;

  • The province-wide system of oversight be restored to the Agricultural Land Commission Act and that the ALR be restored to one zone.
  • The Agricultural Land Commission provide oversight to all the regulatory changes recently introduced regarding leasing farmland, value added activities and added dwellings on farmland.
  • The Agricultural Land Commission be given the mandate and human resources to prevent agricultural land in BC from being turned into carbon-sequestering tree farms. 
  • The members of the Commission be farmers or individuals who have a background in agriculture in BC and that the Agricultural Land Commissioner be consulted before appointments are made. 
Thus this article highlights some examples of government and public institutions promoting food security through its policies and programs as well as some areas where more needs to be done. As campaigned by Food Secure Canada, a national food policy would also unite interrelated activities of public bodies, community initiatives, farmers and food industry workers to holistically approach the connected issues of hunger, sustainable food production, climate change and diet.

What we can do

We can participate in different ways to address food security issues such as:
  • Sign the Eat Think Vote campaign to raise the need for a National food policy as an election issue 
  • Attend a Burnaby Food First workshop or join us!
  • Buy local. Shop at Farmer's markets
  • Volunteer time or donate to community organizations that work to improve food security (we hope you will consider Burnaby Food First!)
Small changes in lifestyle by all of us in the community can have a large collective impact on food security!

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