The proposed Local Food Act was recently re-introduced by the Government and is currently in second reading debate, occupying eighteen hours of House time so far. Sustain Ontario and the ideas put forth by its members have been mentioned numerous times – these mentions, coming from both the Government and the Opposition, have employed Sustain as a resource for balanced and informed representation of healthy food and local, sustainable farming issues.
Sustain Ontario is especially pleased to see emphasis on key issues such as local procurement, food literacy and education, and food hubs.
Below is a selection of highlights from the House debates concerning the Local Food Act. All information was pulled from Hansard, covering the period between April 9th and April 25th.
- Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, @grantcrack), Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture and Food, made mention of his attendance at the Growing Good Food Ideas launch.
- Mr. Jonah Schein (Davenport, @jonahschein) cited the need to support local procurement policies for schools, hospitals, colleges, universities and hospitals as well the importance of food literacy and education.
- Mr. Ernie Hardeman (Oxford) stated in the House, “I want to commend Sustain Ontario for looking at the food system as a whole and for putting forward a proposal to strengthen the system, starting on our farms.” Hardeman also cited the Letter to the Premier concerning the Local Food Act to which Sustain was a signatory and voiced support for its call to increase food literacy in Ontario.
- Mr. Randy Pettapiece (Perth-Wellington, @RandyPettepiece) quoted directly from Sustain’s backgrounder on regional food hubs, arguing for food hubs as a means to ensuring easier access to market for small and medium-sized farming operations and also for reducing the distance that food travels from farm to plate.
- Ms. Catherine Fife (Kitchener-Waterloo, @CFifeKW) referenced several points from Sustain Ontario’s backgrounder on local food, particularly its recommendation for an interministerial working group to address local food issues.
- Mr. Michael Mantha (Algoma-Manatoulin, @M_MantheMPP) voiced support for food literacy and education, stating, “We know that improving food literacy through nutrition and food preparation programming is a good idea.” Mantha also encouraged the Government to follow Sustain Ontario’s lead in conducting research on local farming.
Sustain Ontario is once again pleased to see the work of its members and advisory committee playing such a crucial role in the development of local food policy, especially with support from all political parties, and hopes to continue working with policy makers to make a healthy, equitable, ecological and sustainable food system a priority for Ontario.
As the provincial budget approaches, Sustain will pay especially close attention to programming announcements related to the Local Food Act as well as to the recommendations of the Healthy Kids Panel.