An integral component of improving food systems is collaboration among stakeholders from across the food sector. This provides structure and organization towards a sustainable food system and in many instances involve representation from the municipal/regional level (planning, agricultural, social development, health departments), businesses (production/manufacturing/ retail), private social enterprises, community groups and academic experts. It can open avenues for resource sharing of funding, expertise and technology, provide opportunities to unify various interest groups through discussions about emerging food systems, and facilitate policy development.
Municipal/Regional Food Policy Councils
Many communities are creating food policy councils or other organizations with broad, cross-sectoral membership to help enhance collaboration and coordination.
- Just Food, Ottawa – The council was initially formed as the Ottawa Food Security Group (OFSG) in October 2000 in order to conduct an inventory of food programs in the region. In 2001, the OFSG hosted some events and engaged in stakeholder consultations which led to the decision to form an Ottawa Food Security Council. The council was endorsed by City Council in March 2003. The following year, the council changed its focus from policy work to project development and building partnerships. In 2006, the OFSC officially changed its name to Just Food. Currently, the non-profit organization consists of a six-member Board to provide strategic direction, six staff, volunteers, community partners, members and funders. The main funders include the City of Ottawa, Trillium Foundation, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Canadian Institute of Health Research. They are also sponsored by the Social Planning Council of Ottawa who provides support in way of subsidies for overall infrastructure costs, research and general project support.
- Sudbury Food Policy Council: The City of Greater Sudbury and the Sudbury & District Health Unit (SDHU) endorsed the City of Greater Sudbury’s Food Charter in 2004. Eventually, it was recognized that there was a greater need for collaboration and coordinated action across sectors, which led to the creation of the Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council. The Council sought to provide diversified representation across the regional food system by selecting members who were knowledgeable and experienced in various food system components. These included components related to production, processing, distribution, consumption, waste management, food access, health and/or nutrition, food preservation/food preparation skills, wild plants, harvesting, hunting and fishing, the environment and sustainability, and two representatives with a background in system-wide analysis (including natural or social science research, media, economic/community development, law, public education, or land use planning).
- Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance (GHFFA) and the Greater Toronto Area Agricultural Action Committee (GTAAAC): The GHFFA originated in the work of the Greater Toronto Area Agricultural Action Committee, a partnership established in 2005 by the regional municipalities of Halton, Peel, York and Durham, the City of Toronto, the four GTA Federations of Agriculture (Halton, Peel, York and Durham), the Toronto Food Policy Council, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the food sector. The GTAAAC was originally established as a forum to share information and coordinate action on agricultural issues in the GTA. Over time, its membership expanded, and it repositioned itself as the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance (GHFFA) to reflect its broader geographic representation. In 2012, the GHFFA released the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Action Plan 2021, which identified pathways for a more integrated and coordinated approach to food and farming viability in the area to ensure that the Golden Horseshoe retains, enhances and expands its role as a leading food and farming cluster.