Organized in partnership with the Mayor’s Officer, the Foodscapes Bus Tour brought together HRM Councillors, HRM staff, and community food champions to raise awareness of current success stories in our local food system and build support for the Halifax Food Charter and the development of a Municipal Food Action Plan.
The first stop was the Northwood Halifax Campus, which offers services for seniors, a specific at-risk demographic with heightened difficulty accessing healthy and affordable food. Along with a range of services, Northwood helps to ensure healthy diets for seniors and collaborates with the Mobile Food Market, offering clients fresh produce, dried goods, baked goods, among other wholesome foods.
The second location that was visited was BEEA Honey with Heart in Dartmouth that provided a direct look at youth-led social enterprise helping to increase food production and food literacy on a local scale. BEEA Honey with Heart embraces the curiosity and creativity of youth and demonstrates how local supply-chains, from production to sale to consumption, can emerge from community collaboration. Seen along the way was the Dartmouth North Community Centre and neighbouring community garden, which is a bustling example of food education and distribution made possible by collaborations between local community members, municipal government, and the private sector.
The third and final stop was the Sackville Public Library, where attendees learned about the history of community struggle that led to a life-changing collaboration. The Sackville Public Library obtained a grant from the Cobequid Community Health Board to build a community kitchen that is now used to teach residents of all ages new food skills and also helps to address accessibility issues for low-income residents.
Between site presentations, Bus Tour attendees also heard stories about food in rural communities. Amy Hockin of the Prospect Road Community Centre and Denise VanWychen of the Eastern Shore Musquodoboit Community Health Board shared stories about food in their rural communities and challenges for sustaining their programs.
Why do we need a Food Action Plan?
Bus tour attendees observed how many communities are leading the path forward with innovative solutions to bring healthy food to their communities. In doing so they are demonstrating how food can be a driver of positive change, promoting youth entrepreneurship, social inclusion (particularly for vulnerable groups), and community-based economic development. As we continue to build on this momentum, we also see the need for better coordination; and ways in which we can monitor progress on common food system goals.
Through a Food Action Plan, we will be able to expand and build on these innovative, community-led programs, by ensuring supportive policies are in place and resources are more accessible to help ensure their sustainability.
Thanks very much to our co-organizers, speakers, site hosts, and attendees! To read more about the bus and the importance of a Food Action Plan click here!