A new council hopes to reverse a decades-long shift in Newfoundland and Labrador, which — on the island of Newfoundland in particular — has gone from a self-sustaining food system to one that’s at the mercy of the weather and the waves.
The St. John’s Food Policy Council held its first meeting at city hall Thursday, bringing together representatives from community organizations, the restaurant industry, and government — anyone with a stake in island food security.
Kristie Jameson, the executive director of the Food Security Network NL, said the council is being formed in collaboration with the city of St. John’s.
“The idea is that the Food Policy Council would bring together a diversity of players involved in the food system,” she said Thursday morning, during a break from the initial session.
“It includes producers, restaurateurs, grocery stores, etc., in dialogue and planning and action around food issues.”
Jameson said the first meeting will determine the key issues and membership structure of the group, which will advise city council.
“We’ll be talking about poverty and access, economic and physical access to food,” she said.
“We’ll be talking about food production, so potential promotion of community gardens or urban agriculture. We’ll be talking about composting, so supporting either home-based composting programs, or more policy-oriented municipal composting programs.”
Coun. Dave Lane will represent the city of St. John’s on the council.
“The city’s involvement is to say, ‘We support having a food policy council. We’ll enable you guys as we can in terms of maybe providing space or a bit of staff support where we can,’ to make sure that this group can come together and create policies that the city can then vote on as council, so that we can make decisions that relate to food in a more well-rounded way.”
Access to food
“We’ve moved from self-sufficiency in the province and our city, of food production, to basically being at the whim of shipping routes and weather,” said Lane.
“I think it’s important for us, as a city, to look, at what resources do we have now, here, that we can use to have our own healthy and tasty food, which will actually support, say, our restaurant industry, our land-use policy, so we know we’re being environmentally friendly in a lot of cases, and also it enables people to grow their own food, and it means they have access, and policies that don’t prohibit them.”