Over the last number of years there has been a groundswell of interest, across Canada and internationally, in how food systems work and the numerous interconnected ways they affect the health of our communities and the environment.
At the local level, many committed organizations and individuals are working to address these complex social issues and improve community food security for Reginans. REACH, the Regina Food Bank, the University of Regina, the North Central Community Association, the Regina Public Interest Research Group, and the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation are just a few of the local organizations working to improve community food security, raise awareness of food issues and engage community members as active participants in the local food system.
In addition to these established organizations, new community groups and projects are popping up across Regina in an attempt to address the need for positive changes to our food system. These include Real Food Regina, Permaculture Regina, Fruit for Thought, Regina Chicken Underground, the Field 2 Fork Festival, Regina’s Edible Campus, and the Carmichael Outreach community garden.
Despite all of these local initiatives and the clear evidence of their critical importance, there remains no strategic network of food-related organizations and projects, nor is there a clear, strategic, or comprehensive vision or action plan for how to affect change across the many sectors that make up the local food system. The proposed CFA will address these gaps, following in the footsteps of communities across North America and beyond that have undertaken similar assessment processes. Regina’s CFA will directly benefit from the experiences of other communities, including La Ronge, Calgary, and Vancouver.
Quite simply, the timing for this project could not be better. Serendipitously, Saskatoon is currently engaged in its own CFA, allowing for strategic learning and sharing of regional information and resources between our two communities. Not only that, but First Nations University of Canada is undertaking a concurrent related project on the Indigenous Community Food System, which offers further opportunities for partnership and resource sharing.
Finally, the City of Regina is in the process of finalizing its Official Community Plan, which focuses on a number of key priorities, several of which are directly related to the city’s food system. This presents an unprecedented opportunity to build working relationships with the city’s administration to develop a practical, attainable plan to improve food-related policy and regulations at the municipal level.