The Food System in St. John's is affected by multiple entities who traditionally work independently. The St. John's Food policy Council was created to sit key players and policy makers around the same table, so they could work together and help the food system flourish in St. John's.
The Need for a Food Policy Council in St. John's
Unbeknownst to most consumers, a lot of planning and policy decisions affect the food on your table, and how it got there. And every governmental department, from agriculture and economic development, to transportation, education, health, and community services are involved.
The St. John's Food Policy Council (SJFPC) was conceived as a way to connect these separate entities, and act as a forum where these people could come together to identify and work on potential actions towards a better food system.
Take for example transportation, as it relates to food. The Federal government controls aspects of how shipping companies arrive in our ports, the provincial government has policies pertaining to land use, and the municipal government plans roadways. It'd be hard to improve the transportation of food in our capital city without representatives of all levels of government at the table.
Also, because many policies, like city zoning, are not done with food in mind, the food system can suffer. The idea was that the SJFPC could bring food back into the equation for how we plan communities.
the Origins of the SJFPC
The idea to form a Food Policy Council came from the City’s Environmental Advisory Committee, after they heard a presentation from Food First NL’s Executive Director, Kristie Jameson.
In 2013, The City of St. John's pledged its support for Food First NL to develop a council to bring together citizens, community organizations, industry, and government to discuss issues and provide ideas and recommendations for new and improved policies and programs that would improve the municipal food system.
At an inaugural meeting in June of 2014, 29 people representing the food system gathered to discuss the purpose, priorities, and membership of the SJFPC, and Councillor Dave Lane was named the City of St. John’s Council representative.
The founding membership of the St. John’s Food Policy Council was formed in April 2015, and it focused on identifying strategic issues for the council for the coming year.
It was was made up of government and community members, as well as food industry players, who represented all of the activities of the people and companies who grow, process, distribute, acquire, consume, and dispose of food.
The involvement of the City of St. John's was critical, as it is involved with food in so many ways, from zoning developments and the licensing of businesses, to agricultural land development. As well, policy ideas borne of the council would easily be taken to city hall.