Halifax council adopts new strategy to address food insecurity
Halifax regional council accepted a plan Tuesday to strengthen its food policy and address food insecurity in the municipality.
The JustFOOD Action Plan has over 50 recommendations to create a more just, sustainable and resilient food system. The plan was developed by HRM staff and the Halifax Food Policy Alliance.
It focuses on a number of issues such as food waste, access barriers, increasing local food production and consumption, and creating equitable access for Indigenous and African Nova Scotian communities.
During a presentation to council, staffer Leticia Smillie said HRM has one of the highest average rates of household food insecurity across Canada at 18.6 per cent. The Canadian average was 15.9 per cent in 2021.
Smillie also told councillors food inflation is at a 40-year high, and major grocery store chains haven't addressed this.
"I'd like to say that they have been at the table with us all the way through this, but I would say it's been fairly silent," said Smillie.
Food banks not the solution
When councillor Kathryn Morse asked about the role of food banks, Smillie emphasized that while they're necessary, they aren't a real solution to the problem.
"They've always intended to be a Band-Aid, but unfortunately for many people, they are something that they're relying on every week, every month, whenever they can access them for their food," Smillie said.
More Vail, a community food co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, co-chairs the Halifax Food Policy Alliance. Vail said they hope the plan will result in long-term solutions that address the root causes of food insecurity.
"I would say that it is a reflection of the ways that our governments have pushed social services onto non-profits and community organizations, as though this would be a more effective solution," Vail said.
"When in the long term, we need really strong social policy to support things like affordable housing and child care, because these are inextricably linked to food security."
The plan accepted by council is just the first part of the overall initiative. The second part will be presented to council in the fall and will request funding for more specific initiatives and projects.
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