For Erin Reyce, Tuesday’s news conference to announce the area has a food charter was not a beginning, but the end of a beginning.
The dietitian from the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit was part of a group that spent a year putting together the charter.
What is it?
Reyce says it’s a starting point to make healthy eating more than just a thought throughout the district, but a goal.
Reyce says the idea is to have everyone at least understand that healthy eating is more than an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
“The vision is creating a healthy, sustainable food system for the Nipissing area where the healthy choice is the easy choice. Good food is accessible to everyone. We have policies in place to protect urban agriculture and agricultural land, we have great recycling and waste management programs with a green program for composting. The vision is kind of infinite in a way.”
Part of the food charter is making healthy food more sustainable, especially for those who can’t afford healthy choices.
Candace Benson, from the Gathering Place, knows what that means.
“It’s very important for our food insecurity issues. Food rescue is a major part of it . We do accept whatever comes in and our kitchen manager, Michelle, is very adept at creating amazing meals out of what we get.”
“We’re getting a lot more fresh produce and really nutritious food that is grown in the North. That’s very beneficial to us.”
Ryan Spence spoke on behalf of the producers.
He says a food charter also takes into account those locally who produce the food.
“The local food charter in a way it validates what we’re doing already. But it also raises awareness to consumers and other community members the value of this type of thing. It create the connections hopefully between the consumers and those producing the food so we can all celebrate things locally.”
Reyce says the next step is to put together a working group to see what needs to be developed first, and then get to work on the issues.
“We will form a group with representation from all different sectors: organizations, municipalities, producers, community members that will set priorities and work at them."
She also admits the document may never be fully finished.
“We will probably never be able to do everything perfect to get to a sustainable system. But there’s a lot we can do better, and I think there’s momentum to be working together on doing better.”
You can learn more about the project at nipissingareafood.ca