Today, the Thunder Bay + Area Food Strategy released the 2023 Community Food System Report Card, which provides an updated snapshot of the trends, challenges, and opportunities related to Thunder Bay’s regional food system.
There has been an array of pressures impacting our local food system in recent years, ranging from climate change to Covid to the war on Ukraine. The effects have been broad and cumulative. Climate change has impacted harvests from California to Thunder Bay which has often led to higher prices at the grocery store. Covid together with war between Russia and Ukraine has increased the costs of many goods and services–driving up the cost
of doing business while also increasing prices for consumers.
Food Strategy Coordinator Karen Kerk argues: “We need to be paying closer attention to our regional food system because it makes our region more resilient. Thunder Bay is a major importer of food and the number of people who are hungry has gone up dramatically in the last couple years. When Covid hit, a lot of people looked to local producers to fill their fridges and freezers. If we’re going to ensure that everyone has access to food over the long term, we need to build that capacity while ensuring that everyone who needs it can access food”.
Charles Levkoe, Canada Research Chair in Equitable and Sustainable Food Systems at Lakehead University, Acting Chair of the Thunder Bay + Area Food Strategy, and one of the report’s co-authors explains: “The role of the Community Food System Report Card is to assess the food system as a whole by tracking changes to 119 indicators across seven different food system pillars. Having updated data allows us to see what’s changed in our food systems compared to 2015 when the first Report Card was released.”
And it’s not all bad news. There’s been growth in land-based learning programs at area schools, a growth in community garden plots and an 800% increase in the sales of locally grown seeds.
Ultimately the Report Card is about action. The Report Card is a call to action for stakeholders to get involved in building a more equitable and sustainable food system for all. The Report Card is the culmination of two years of research and analysis and is presented digitally at foodsystemreportcard.ca through data indicators, infographics,
narrative analyses, as well as highlight stories and videos. This project was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Sustainable Food Systems Lab at Lakehead University, and the City of Thunder Bay.
The Thunder Bay + Area Food Strategy has a number of activities and events planned to share the findings of the Report Card and help build some of the “calls to action” towards a better food system for all.