The Thunder Bay and Area Food and Agriculture Market Study was finalized. The findings were presented at a launch event that brought out local farmers, economic development professionals, government representatives, and others.
The Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board formed a formal partnership with the Food Strategy and assigned two representatives to the Food Strategy Council, one of which also joined the School Food Environments Working Group.
The City of Thunder Bay released the 2018 Official Plan which included Food Security as a Guiding Principle: "the City will seek to increase residents’ access to nutritious, safe, and healthy local food, while increasing opportunities for residents to grow their own food". Notably, food is mentioned over 50 times in the Official Plan.
The Food Strategy organized and hosted a Local Food Procurement Workshop which brought out over 30 local institutional buyers and food service professionals. Local experts shared information and their experiences with bolstering local food procurement to educate and inspire others to make meaningful change in their food supply chains.
The Indigenous Food Circle was officially formed with representation from nine local Indigenous organizations, facilitated by Jessica McLaughlin and supported by the Food Strategy Council and Executive Committee.
The Food Strategy Executive Committee submitted a formal response to Minister MacAulay regarding A Food Policy for Canada.
An Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression Workshop was held for Food Strategy Council members, led by Gwen O'Reilly from the Northwestern Ontario Women's Centre and Jessica McLaughlin from Oshki-Pimache-O-Win. The training session aimed to help participants deepen their understanding of how racism and oppression occur at a personal and structural level. The session also provided assistance with the change process toward equity and helped participants develop a critical approach to addressing racism and other forms of oppression and deepen their analysis of how racism and oppression play out in society and within their organizations.
The Food Strategy Executive Committee submitted a response to the Discussion Paper on Ontario's First Food Security Strategy. The response described what was missing from the discussion, situated the strategy in the Thunder Bay Area context, and provided input on next steps.
The Food Strategy encouraged gardeners to think ahead this year and plan to share. "Grow a Row, Share the Harvest" asks local gardeners to grow an extra row and dedicate the excess to food providing agencies to help make a difference in the lives of those with limited access to healthy, fresh food. Partnering organizations include Grace Place, Shelter House, the Salvation Army, Due Drop Inn, and the Regional Food Distribution Association.
A Communications Working Group was established.
The speaker series continued with a talk by Dr. Harriet Friedmann about how we may rethink success and failure through sustainable food systems initiatives.
The Food Strategy's Indigenous Food Circle was established.
Partnered with Lakehead University, the Food Strategy began a speaker series where 86 people collectively attended and participated (online and in-person) in talks led by Dr. Elaine Power about food insecurity and basic income in Canada.
The Food Strategy launched a monthly newsletter to engage and communicate with the Food Strategy Council and wider community.
Sustain Ontario launched the Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy, mentioning the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy as a key example of an initiative prioritizing the management and use of forest and freshwater food systems, and trying to improve food accessibility in remote regions.
Also at this time, the 9th edition of the Get Fresh! Guide to local food was released on the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy website.
The City of Thunder Bay’s Supply Management Division reports that the City has successfully raised their total spend on local (Ontario) and regional foods to 38.45 percent in 2016.
An Open House was held to facilitate a discussion about re-shaping the current zoning by-law to allow chickens in urban areas of Thunder Bay. This event brought out over 400 people and featured visits with chickens, a coop display, and the opportunity for the community to submit comments. While the bylaw was left unchanged, the dialogue challenged the community to reflect on their local food system.
The Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy officially transitioned from a Strategy to a Council which included the election of 10 Executive Committee members.
The Food Strategy brought together a partnership of 12 local agricultural associations and economic development organizations to support the development of and monitor the progress of the Thunder Bay and Area Food and Agriculture Market Study. The study was identified as a Priority Project in the Food Strategy’s 2015 Implementation Plan as a way to form a comprehensive picture of the demand for locally grown and processed foods in the Thunder Bay area. The resulting information will assist in the growth of agricultural businesses and ultimately contribute to community economic development.
The Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy released its inaugural 2015 Community Food Security Report Card to take a more coordinated approach to addressing food issues. The Report Card establishes baselines around the 7 pillars of the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy so that progress towards a food secure community can be measured.
The Food Strategy co-hosted the Flavour of the Northwest Food Forum which connected agricultural, food service, industrial, and hospitality stakeholders across Northwestern Ontario. Inspired by the keynote speaker, Chef Jamie Kennedy, and guided by field experts, attendees explored the ways in which they can work together to promote regional foods to visitors and local communities. Facilitated discussions strengthened the relationships among stakeholders as they talked about marketing techniques and the development of a culinary identity for the region.
The Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy presented at a food policy forum organized by Sustain Ontario, the Guelph-Wellington Roundtable and the Halton Food Council. The day-long event, Growing a Local Food Strategy: A Day of Dialogue among Community Leaders and Decision Makers, connected community leaders and municipal staff from across the province engaged in developing Food Strategies with and for their local governments. The City of Thunder Bay's Supply Management Manager was also at the event to present on the pioneering work being led by the City of Thunder Bay.
On April 22, the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy, EarthCare Thunder Bay, and Roots to Harvest held an "Ideas to Action Cafe" for Thunder Bay residents interested in urban agriculture. Urban agriculture interventions are any activity that creates a new, or expands and existing, urban agriculture project, such as edible bus stops, pollinator corridors, and food forests. The event connected residents with respected community leaders plus City of Thunder Bay and Thunder Bay District Health Unit staff to help interested citizens put their ideas into action and begin transforming their neighbourhoods and communities through small-scale urban agriculture interventions.
The Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy also finalized its Implementation Plan for 2015. Included in the Implementation Plan are 20 projects that the Food Strategy will facilitate and champion since the Food Strategy was endorsed by local councils in 2014.
The City of Thunder Bay's Supply Management Department committed to pursuing six procurement objectives for 2015, including tracking local food purchases, holding quarterly meetings with institutional food service staff to continue the conversations on how they might improve internal ordering processes, conducting a food waste audit of one of its long-term care facilities (final report available here), piloting a forward contract with a local grower, engaging residents of long-term care homes in the city's initiative, and sharing learnings gained from the city's procurement project with other institutions in the city. The Food Strategy collaborated with Supply Management over 2015 to help realize several of these initiatives.
In January, the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy joined 20 regional food organizations and farm businesses to ask the Chicken Farmers of Ontario (CFO) and other industry leaders to include them in industry growth consultations. The CFO responded to the request for a consultation with northern Ontario communities by scheduling a teleconference on February 11, 2015. The CFO since launched several programs to address regional concerns.
Additonally, the City of Thunder Bay's 2015 Experience Guide put a focus on local food. The guide was themed around local farms, restaurants and food trucks, and included an article by the Food Strategy on the growing local food movement.
The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) released its new Strategic Plan (2014-2017) and included "regional food" as one of its strategic directions. At the CEDC's yearly Ideas Forum for young entrepreneurs, the CEDC put the focus on young farmers and organized a farm tour for staff of local economic development organizations and city managers looking to learn more about the local food economy. The CEDC led several session in Ontario Nature's two-day forest food entrepreneur workshop held in the spring of 2015.
Leading up to the municipal elections on October 27, 2014, the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy also launched a Vote for Food and Farming campaign. The Food Strategy sent 3 questions to candidates in all 7 local municipalities, seeking their commitment to improving access to healthy food for all, protecting food producing areas, and supporting food and farm businesses. Voters, local businesses, and the media alike showed an enthusiastic response to the campaign, letting candidates know that food and farming will be important issues for the next elected council.
Additionally, in October 2014 the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy presented to the Thunder Bay District Board of Health, after which the Board of Health voted to formally endorse the Food Strategy.
The finalized Food Strategy was presented to councils in the Thunder Bay area. Formal endorsements were received from the City of Thunder Bay (June 16), the Municipality of Oliver Paipoonge (June 23), O’Connor Township (June 23), the Township of Gillies (August 11), the Municipality of Shuniah (August 11), and the Municipality of Neebing (September 3).
An Open House was held to seek broader community input into the draft goals, recommendations, and actions of the strategy. Over 140 people attended the event.
The Food Access Working Group also distributed a survey to over 100 people living on low income. The results were fed into the Food Access chapter of the strategy.
In collaboration with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, the Food Access Working Group held 3 community food mapping sessions with low income residents to better understand where and how people access food in the city, and challenges to purchasing healthy food.
Organized around the 7 pillars of the strategy, 70 working group members met 30 times over 7 months to draft the goals, recommendations, and actions for the strategy.
The Food Strategy was formally launched at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit with participation from over 60 people from partnering agencies and members of the community who had contributed to the development of the strategy to date.
The Geospatial Data Center at Lakehead University partnered with the Food Strategy to assist each working group inventory data and visually represent information with mapping.
The City of Thunder Bay, District Health Unit, Food Strategy, Food Action Network and Thunder Bay Federation of Agriculture were awarded a second Greenbelt Fund grant to increase local food purchases in municipal day-cares and long-term care facilities. The 2013 projects built on the findings from the 2012 Greenbelt funded project.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation awarded a grant to the Food Strategy initiative, through EcoSuperior, to hire a full-time Coordinator for a three year period.
More than 50 people participated in the 2nd annual Thunder Bay & Area Regional Food Summit. Seven pillars were identified as the building blocks to a Local Food Strategy.
The City of Thunder Bay—in partnership with the Thunder Bay Federation of Agriculture, Food Action Network, and Thunder Bay District Health Unit—was awarded a $100,000 grant through the Greenbelt Fund to identify players in public sector food procurement in the City of Thunder Bay and the capacity of local producers to supply public institutions with nutritious locally-sourced product.
The Food Action Network, in collaboration with the City and surrounding municipalities held a Food Summit to set the stage the developing a local Food Strategy.
The City of Thunder Bay’s 2011-2014 Strategic Plan identified the development of a comprehensive local food strategy as an action item.
The EarthWise (now EarthCare) Community Environmental Action Plan (CEAP) was passed by Thunder Bay City Council and recommended that the City use the Thunder Bay Food Charter to guide related decision-making and policy development within the city and that the city should develop a community food security strategy.
The Thunder Bay Food Charter was endorsed by Thunder Bay City Council, the District Social Services Board, and 33 other local governments, organizations, and businesses. The Food Charter is based on the principles of community food security and is intended to help guide government decision-making.