An Overview of Everybody Eats
from 2015 to the formation of its initial action groups in 2018
The island of Newfoundland is cut-off from mainland Canada by the ocean, and Labrador is a vast land of isolated communities. We are bigger than all the other Atlantic Canadian provinces combined, so our geography and population dynamics create a lot of unique challenges in providing our communities with consistent access to healthy and affordable food. You can read more about these issues on our What Is Food Security? page.
Catalyzing province-wide Action on Food Security
In 2015, Food First NL partnered with the NL Public Health Association to develop and lead Everybody Eats: A Provincial Dialogue on Food Security in NL.
Everybody Eats was launched with the release of a Discussion Paper on the state of food security in NL. The discussion paper outlined an introduction to the local food system, provided an overview of the state of food security in NL, and highlighted existing food security efforts already underway in the province.
The launch of the paper sparked a provincial discussion on food security in NL. You can read this Paper or its Discussion Guide by clicking on them here:
Subsequently, an advisory committee of 20 organizations from various sectors and regions of the province was assembled and engaged to mobilize action on food security in NL.
The committee included representation from agriculture and fisheries, chefs and restauranteurs, dietitians and public health practitioners, emergency food service providers, policy makers, and more.
They informed and guided the process of identifying our food system’s primary issues, and possible resolutions.
2,200 Hours of Conversation & Collaboration
During the dissemination of Food First NL’s Everybody Eats Discussion Paper, more than 900 key people participated in over 2,200 hours of discussion on food security in our province.
This comprehensive level of engagement was achieved through 26 events, and via an online forum. At each engagement session, participants were asked a common set of questions to help identify priorities, challenges, and opportunities for advancing food security in NL.
In 2016, Everybody Eats adopted a Collective Impact Approach to advance food security in Newfoundland & Labrador. A Collective Impact projects secures commitment from leaders across different sectors to solve a complex social problem, such as food security.
It ensures every player necessary for change is sharing a vision and charting the same course, towards the same goal, which increases the odds of a positive outcome. For example, to improve local food production, we need local farmers at the same table as local policy makers.
The public sector is in control of things like roads, ferries, and agricultural and wildlife policies that affect the food system. The private sector is composed of the farmers, fishers, chefs, shops, and food producers who produce the food we eat. Naturally, we need the key players from both sectors at the same table.
The Collective Impact model of Everybody Eats has ensured the Community Sector is at the table too: they’re the ones who, for example, deliver local food programming via initiatives like food banks, community gardens, or poverty reduction programming.
What We Heard Report Summary Spawns 3 Clear Themes
In October of 2017, Food First NL released Everybody Eats: What We Heard.
The document summarizes 2 years worth of engagement and discussion among key stakeholders on food security in our province.
You can read it by clicking the cover image to the right.
During this 2-year engagement process, 3 key themes and actionable areas were heard with the most consistency:
Key Theme 1: Increase Local Food Production
Our province’s heavy reliance on imported food, and the fact we produce so little food here ourselves, were central issues throughout Everybody Eats’ engagement process. Relying so heavily on imported foods affects the quality, availability, and affordability of food for our people.
Participants felt there are two primary ways of increasing local food production: produce more of our own food through commercial agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture, and, produce more food for personal consumption through things like community gardens and farmer’s markets.
Key Theme 2: Improve Access to Healthy Food
Throughout the Everybody Eats engagement process, 2 inter-connected issues emerged regarding access to healthy food: healthy foods tend to be less affordable than their alternatives, and, unhealthy options tend to be more readily available than healthy ones.
One needs only to picture vending machines, corner stores, or cafeterias at local institutions, and the food they’re usually stocked with, to agree. To quote one participant, “we need to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”
Healthy food is also out of reach for people living on low income, and people living in communities with compromised access to full service grocery stores.
Key Theme 3: Raise Education, Awareness, and Food Skills
Participants spoke about raising awareness around the relationship between food and health, and, our province’s food security issues.
It was suggested awareness could be raised particularly well through the formal education system, and public awareness campaigns. The formal education system, spanning kindergarten to grade twelve, presents an exceptional opportunity to better our children’s relationship with food and nutrition, while building food skills like cooking, gardening, food preservation, and fishing.
Provincial Planning Forum
In November of 2017, the Everybody Eats Leadership Team hosted a Provincial Planning Forum on Food Security. The Forum brought together more than 85 key stakeholders in the provincial food system. Premier Dwight Ball provided opening remarks.
The goal of the forum was to shift the project from engagement to action. It was time to stop talking about food security issues, and start doing something about them.
Through a series of hands-on, interactive exercises, attendees discussed and reflected on findings from the Everybody Eats engagement process. They then worked together to identify action points to improve food security in NL. The forum also provided an opportunity to enlist potential candidates to form working groups that would develop and enact these action areas.
First 3 Action Areas Announced for Everybody Eats
Using the input and feedback generated at the Provincial Planning Forum, the Everybody Eats Leadership Team identified 3 initial action areas for the next phase of the Everybody Eats project.
These action areas were identified as priorities on the basis of their urgency, potential for impact, and the viability of their implementation resulting in productive action in advancing food security.
In time, more ideas borne out of the Provincial Planning Forum will be used to inform the work of this project. The first 3 action groups are:
Cost of Food and Household Food Insecurity
This group was formed to improve economic access to healthy food in NL.
Community Food Self Sufficiency
This group will work with policy makers and community programs to improve communities’ access to wild and locally grown food throughout the province.
Promotion of Local Food in NL
This action group will aim to increase the consumption of locally produced food.
To read more about Cost of Food in NL, click here.
EVERYBODY EATS HAS EARNED NATIONAL RECOGNITION
For its immense and collaborative effort in mobilizing this important work, Everybody Eats has garnered national attention.
In fact, Food First NL’s model is being adapted and implemented by the New Brunswick Food Security Action Network, and the approach was reviewed by Food Secure Canada in developing their efforts to inform the creation of a National Food Policy.
In March of 2018, Food First’s Executive Director Kristie Jameson and Everybody Eats Project Manager Ethan Doney attended the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security’s inaugural, national symposium on food security, where Jameson sat on a panel that focussed on policy levers that can advance issues of food security.