Food Matters Manitoba was one of the key driving forces behind getting the Winnipeg Food Council (WFC) up and running. Today we were given the opportunity to present our report, Towards a Winnipeg Food Strategy: Policy Scan and Recommendations, to members of the council, including City Councilor Brian Mayes. The report summarizes recommendations from a few different public consultations and neighbourhood food assessments completed in the past few years. It also summarizes provincial policies and city by-laws relevant to food, and promising practices from food councils across North America.
Five priority areas emerge in the report. The first is access and equity. Many people in the city of Winnipeg face economic and social barriers to accessing food. The WFC could play an important role in helping to make food more accessible and equitable by advocating for affordable and accessible transportation and for an increase in Employment and Income Assistance rates.
Other priorities of the report include highlighting the importance of local and regional food systems, urban agriculture, efficient land use planning, and food education and literacy.
The report states, “The formation of the Winnipeg Food Council (WFC) is a monumental step towards an equitable and sustainable municipal food system.” The council has plenty of work ahead of them, including creating a Winnipeg Food Strategy. We are cheering them on in that work, and hope that the summary of recommendations and promising practices for food councils is a helpful framework for the council to use when preparing their plan. We are excited to see what the council will come up with!
Some other topics that were covered in today’s food council meeting were water and compost access for community gardens, and land use for commercial agriculture within the city. Both of these important topics have been ongoing conversations at WFC meetings and we look forward to seeing some positive changes as a result!
Written by: Zoe Matties, Research Intern