The Federal Government’s 2019 Budget contains notable support for food -- and many of the announcements align with Food First NL’s work -- including:
Community access to healthy food, via a $50 million Local Food Infrastructure Fund, to support projects like farmers’ markets, food banks, and community gardens. (The Our Food NL Coast of Bays project demonstrates the power of this kind of work)
Food security in northern and remote communities, via a $15 million Northern Isolated Community Initiatives Fund, to support community-led projects and associated equipment and training programs, such as community freezers and hunter support programs. (The Our Food NL: Nunatsiavut project demonstrates the power of this kind of work)
Promotion of local food, via a $25 million Buy Canada Campaign, to promote food grown in Canada both domestically and abroad. (This is one area of focus for the Everybody Eats project)
Reducing food waste, via a $20 million commitment (+$6.3 million in existing funding), to address food waste in food processing, grocery retail, the food service industry, and among federal employees and institutions. (We’re about to release some resources to help curb food waste -- stay tuned!)
All of these investments are part of a five-year $134.4 million investment to support policy priorities of the yet-to-be-released Food Policy for Canada.
National School Food Program
The federal government also announced it’s intention to work with provinces and territories towards the creation of a National School Food Program -- recognizing the critical role healthy meals at school play in a child’s education. While there are a number of different school breakfast and lunch programs across the country, as it currently stands, Canada is one of the only industrialized countries without a national program that ensures all students have access to healthy food during school hours.
While there isn’t any funding tied to this announcement, this commitment is a big step in the right direction, and win for our colleagues at the Coalition for Healthy School Food -- made up of over 40 organizations from across the country (including local groups, the Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland & Labrador and the School Lunch Association). The coalition shares the common vision of creating a national school food program for Canada.
The early success of our growing partnerships to get more healthy, local food into schools, illustrates the interest and opportunity for continued growth in school food programming in our province.
Food First NL is pleased to see the federal government place such a strong focus on food in the 2019 Budget. These budget announcements provide us with a great opportunity to generate and support significant action and impact on food security in our province.
One clear observation we’ve made in our work is that empowering communities – with the kind of support and funding detailed in this announcement – can, and has, helped to improve to access to healthy food in regions of our province that struggle with barriers to food security.
We’re eager to continue to work closely with our colleagues nationally to build upon these successes to support further work advancing food security in Newfoundland and Labrador.