THE Province is investing more than $200 million in food security to ensure people have better access to an increased supply of affordable, local food.
“Food security in British Columbia requires an available, affordable and uninterrupted supply of nutritious food,” said Premier David Eby on Tuesday. “At the same time, we need targeted, effective programs that support the people and communities most impacted by rising inflation, climate events and supply chain shocks.”
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food will invest in new and enhanced programs to strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain and expand local food production from producers to processors and from packers to retailers. The ministry will also be investing in Indigenous communities to help with the availability and cost of food and to improve local food security, particularly in remote and rural communities. The funding will also help agricultural producers and food processors grow their businesses and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events.
“This historic investment will give British Columbians access to more nutritious, local and affordable food while maintaining agriculture as a key economic driver in B.C.” said Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “This funding will help strengthen our food supply chain, increase food security in our communities, and improve our resilience in the face of a changing climate.”
Additionally, grants from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction will strengthen food banks, food distribution and food access. This includes providing food to under-served communities through trusted partners, such as FoodBanks BC and the United Way, as well as increasing the availability of fresh food in rural, Northern and Indigenous communities.
“Global inflation has hit people hard and the rising cost of food is especially tough on vulnerable people,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Helping people lead full, dignified lives is the right thing to do, and funding will help thousands of people access nutritious, affordable food.”
Food insecurity has increased because of COVID-19, inflation, supply-chain issues, and climate emergencies that interrupt the food supply as well as production. This unprecedented investment recognizes the diverse challenges of food producers, processors, suppliers, retailers and consumers, strengthening food security for everyone.
James Donaldson, CEO, BC Food and Beverage, said: “As we feel the continued strains of inflation and supply-chain interruptions with our food system, there is no greater time to invest in our food system in British Columbia. For generations, we have provided consumers with quality trusted products and are a vital part of B.C.’s economy. It is imperative that we continue to ensure all British Columbians are nourished, and our food system thrive.”
Michael McKnight, CEO, United Way BC, said: “No one should have to go to bed worrying about how they will get their next meal or feed their families. This funding will support the expansion of United Way BC’s 20 regional community food hubs, to include new hubs in northern B.C. and southern Vancouver Island, and will strengthen service delivery and support. We will work closely with local food banks, Indigenous organizations and communities, and other social service agencies to help our friends and neighbours in need.”
TogetherBC, B.C.’s poverty reduction strategy: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/
Food security investment in critical areas
Some of the major initiatives to be funded out of this announcement will focus on the following areas:
Indigenous Food Affordability and Food Security –
Will increase Indigenous food security, sovereignty and economic development while decreasing food costs for rural and remote Indigenous Peoples.
Food Security Emergency Planning and Preparedness –
Will allow agricultural producers, industry associations and Indigenous communities to develop disaster plans, mitigation strategies and projects with a unique focus on food security and agricultural resiliency.
Flood Mitigation for Fraser Valley Farmers –
Will provide funding for flood mitigation projects for agricultural producers most affected by the 2021 floods with an emphasis on solutions that provide both flood mitigation and habitat restoration.
Food Processing Growth –
Will address critical gaps in B.C.’s food processing sector to increase food production, food security, and economic growth.
Food Affordability and Innovation –
Will help lower British Columbian’s grocery bills by fostering innovation and improving productivity.
Critical Food Security Infrastructure –
Will improve food security infrastructure throughout the province. Examples include larger commercial-grade coolers, new or improved warehouse facilities, and new or upgraded vehicles for collection, warehouse management and distribution of food.
Food Banks BC –
Will support food access programming, crisis response and work toward long term food security outcomes.
United Way BC –
Will support expansion of regional community food hub programming, including new hubs in northern B.C. and southern Vancouver Island, and support co-ordination of effective community food access responses through an advisory committee.