London Food Bank Announces their “London Cares Curb Hunger Awareness Drive”

On Tuesday June 2nd 2020, the London Food Bank launched the London Cares Curb Hunger Awareness Drive. The Middlesex-London Food Policy Council would like to extend a giant thank you to the farm groups and members of the London community that have been donating to London citizens in need.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Food Bank is asking the community to consider contributing with monetary donations during the annual London Cares Curb Hunger Food drive. This “virtual food drive” will raise funds to purchase needed supplies while reducing contact between people.

The campaign will be actively accepting contributing until June 13th 2020 and is accepting support and donations in the following ways:

1. Financial Donations

The easiest way is to make a financial donation directly to the London Food Bank at: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/49767

2. Plant a Row, Grow a Row

The most fun way is to sign up to Grow a Row of fresh produce in your garden for the Food Bank. http://www.londonfoodbank.ca/learn/plant-a-row-grow-a-row/

3. Food Donations at Grocery Stores

The traditional way is the donation bin at participating grocery stores. Check with your local store or the list on the website listed below to see all available drop off places.

4. At the London Food Bank

The “drop off” way for fresh and non-perishable food is to visit the London Food Bank at 926 Leathorne Street. Thank you for your patience when visiting as physical distancing measures are in effect.

For more information and to see all available drop off places, http://www.londonfoodbank.ca/events/london-cares-curb-hunger-campaign-2020/

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Greenhouse Academy announces “Growing-kits” to help first-time growers

The art of growing your own produce and herbs can not only save money but can also can be a source of family bonding and community initiative. While many have the desire and intention to create a garden, a recurring problem for some of these individuals is not knowing where to start and which produce and herbs to plant.

The Greenhouse Academy and a number of local Middlesex-London partners have created a unique solution to help more homeowners and their children become excited about growing produce and herbs and understand the first steps to a successful garden.

These Greenhouse Academy growing-kits are perfect for experienced or first-time growers and are easily planted in backyards, patios, store fronts, or balconies. The kits are delivered to your front door complete with growing instructions and stored in a compostable pot, already planted with starter plants to ensure you are as successful as the pros.

Through the Growing Academy online store you can browse through kits to grow ingredients for fresh pizza, spaghetti or garden salad.

To purchase a growing-kit or to learn more information about Greenhouse Academy, the local partners involved in the initiative or events happening in the community, please visit:

https://greenhouseacademy.ca/growingkits/

 

 

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Provincial reopening of Community Gardens

On the morning of April 25th, 2020, the Province of Ontario announced an amendment to the COVID-19 emergency order permitting the use of allotment and community gardens. 

Permit the use of allotment gardens and community gardens across the province. These gardens are an essential source of fresh food for some individuals and families, including those who face food insecurity. Local medical officers of health will provide advice, recommendation and instructions that the gardens must meet in order to operate, such as physical distancing, and cleaning and disinfecting commonly used equipment and surfaces. 

We are very pleased that the Province has recognized the importance of the community gardens for individual and community food security. Food insecurity is an ever-present challenge for Middlesex-London, which is increasing this year with the disruptions from the pandemic. We are looking forward to announcements from the City of London and other municipalities in the area regarding details of when they will be allowing public access to their garden plots and what guidelines they will be operating under. We will be sharing those details with you as they are made available. Congratulations and thank you to everyone who has been involved in advocating for this. Your support and letters to your MPPs have been heard and effective. 

The community gardens are only part of the solution for food insecurity. More is still needed. We at the Middlesex-London Food Policy Council are continuing to explore other ways that we as a community can increase food security now and bolstering our community’s resilience and food sovereignty for the future. We are pleased to hear from you concerns and ideas for continuing this work. Feel free to comment on this post or contact us at info@mlfpc.ca. 

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Getting to Food Policy- Findings from recent research

Internationally, Food Policy Councils have increasingly become avenues for food democracy, providing a space for community members, professionals, and government to learn together, deliberate, and collectively come up with place-based strategies to address complex food system issues that matter to their own community. But how does a food policy council’s structure, or their membership affect which priorities they address? 

Research carried out in 2018 by food policy experts from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, looked at how a FPC’s organizational structure, relationship to government, and their membership influence their policy priorities.  From a survey of 222 U. S. Food Policy Councils, along with illustrative case studies, this research showed that FPC’s are quite heterogenous.  

Structure/Membership     

Most (70%) focus their work at the local level, while fewer (8%) work at the state level and 22% at the regional level. The majority are imbedded in an institution: 35% sponsored by a non-profit organization,  29% are embedded in government, and 6% are housed in a university. Another 18% are unincorporated (grassroots) groups and 12% are nonprofit organizations.  

FPC membership consists of professional stakeholders, public administrators, and elected officials from across the food supply chain and interrelated issue areas, e.g., environment, education, economic development, and health care. The membership of the majority of FPCs (92%) includes a community member.  

Funding     

It was clear that FPC’s are woefully underfunded. Sixty eight percent operate on an annual budget of $10,000 or less and 35% have no funding. The top three sources of financial support for FPCs are in-kind donations, non-federal government funding from grants or appropriations, and private foundations.  

Priorities   

For the past three years, healthy food access has been a priority for a majority of FPCs. In 2018, healthy food access, economic development, and anti-hunger were the most common policy priorities (Table 1). More recently, we have seen FPCs prioritizing food waste and food labor laws (Bassarab et al.2019; Morrill, Santo, & Bassarab, 2018). 

 Table 1. Policy Priorities by FPC (N = 222)                                   

Healthy food access 146
Economic development 96
Anti-hunger 81
Food production 69
Food procurement 63
Land use planning 58
Food waste/recovery 40
Local food processing 24
Transportation 18
Natural resources and environment 10
Food labour 4

This research demonstrates that membership and relationship to government, have more bearing on the policy priorities of a FPC than the organizational structure (although the relationship to government is related to the lack of some priorities rather than their presence). Further, by profiling the relationship between membership and policy priorities, and often policy development itself, the case studies highlighted in this underscore the role of FPCs as vehicles for food democracy.  

This study shows that members matter; membership of Food Policy Councils is related to a wide range of policy priorities. 

Central to food democracy is participation by citizens or organizations representing citizens who have traditionally been excluded from the political and economic process. As food policy councils, internationally and here in Middlesex London, tackle “wicked problems”, it is critical to have the voice of community members represented. 

 References 

  1. Bassarab, K., Clark J., Santo R. and Anne Palmer. Finding our Way to Food Democracy: Lessons from US Food Policy Governance. https://www.cogitatiopress.com/politicsandgovernance/article/view/2092/2092 
  2. Williams, P. (2002). The competent boundary spanner. Public Administration, 80(1), 103–124. 
  3. Bassarab, K., Santo, R., & Palmer, A. (2019). Food policy council report 2018. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. 
  4. Morrill, V., Santo, R., & Bassarab, K. (2018). Shining a light on labor: How food policy councils can support food chain workers. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. 

 

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