It takes a community to feed a community. Community activities from the policy level all the way down to what you do in your kitchen affect the health of the community. Some northern communities have advocated for city planning and policy that supports edible plants being grown on city property, land use to encourage backyard gardening and the support of community based food programs.
Other communities are working on creating food policy councils.
With the increasing interest in supporting local food production, a number of programs have sprouted in the north:
Community Gardens typically bring together individuals, families and/or agencies to reclaim vacant land (and sometimes greenhouses) and grow food. Often, participants may not have a growing space or gardening knowledge and experience. For more information on community gardens, check out these resources:
Good Food Boxes (GFB) provide an opportunity for people to pick up a box of produce at a local depot, generally once a month, at a low price. Organizations that coordinate GFB programmes most often have a mandate to serve low-income people and others who cannot easily access healthy foods, although most programmes make their box available to anyone who wishes to purchase it. Some organic food boxes exist in BC. Many boxes try to include locally grown food.
For more information on starting a GFB:
Community Kitchens bring small groups of people together to prepare food. Some kitchens meet often to cook and consume meals as a group, while others meet regularly to prepare meals, which members then take home. Through collective food purchasing and preparation, community kitchens help their members create nutritious, affordable and efficient meals, while meeting a community’s social needs. For more information, see:
Farm to School Initiatives
- The BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program is an initiative that provides BC students and school staff with a fresh fruit or vegetable snack twice a week every other week. The fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables served in the Program will be grown in BC, subject to availability.
- BC Farm to School Salad Bar Program works to build relationships between schools and local farms. Parents, students, and school staff prepare, serve and eat fresh, local produce. Children benefit because fresh veggies and fruit are readily available at school and they learn about the local food system, nutrition and health. People are invited to download a copy of the engaging and practical A Fresh Crunch in School Lunch: The BC Farm to School Salad Bar Guide, which is part inspiration, part how-to manual and part cookbook.
- School Gardens build students knowledge and skills regarding vegetables and promote increased vegetable consumption. School gardens range in size from classroom window sill growing projects to full gardens with greenhouses. School gardens are popping up in northern schools, including Thornhill Elementary School in Terrace. For information on starting a school garden, see School Year Gardens: A Toolkit for High Schools to Grow Food from September to June.
Food Skills for Families is a 6 session cooking workshop created particularly for cooking groups that serve Aboriginal, Punjabi, new immigrant and low-income communities. It is funded through the Canadian Diabetes Association by the BC Healthy Living Alliance.