(WINDSOR, ON) – Despite the region’s urban areas being surrounded by farmland, certain barriers have been found to prevent access to locally grown food. Overcoming what is seen as a dire situation could be the task of what the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit calls a Food Policy Council.
By launching a self-directed effort, the Health Unit is hopeful it can bring individuals, governments, and non-government organizations together at a discussion table. Once at the table the various parties can concentrate on solutions to the betterment of the region.
As it stands now, the WECHU finds the situation is critical and sees vulnerabilities in the local food system. A solution could not only improve access to locally grown food, but also promote economic development and strengthen the system to make it more environmentally sustainable and socially just.
According to the Health Unit, some of the vulnerabilities include restricted access to the crops of local farmers along with a lack of a co-ordinated regional food strategy. Fortifying the system will require the collective efforts of a variety of organizations and citizens.
By joining together as members of the Food Policy Council, members can change the regional food network, reduce vulnerabilities, and expand efforts now undertaken individually by various interests. A Food Policy Council, like the Health Unit is promoting, could create a framework for co-ordinated and integrated action. Strong food systems are ones characterized by less hunger and obesity in the community, according to the WECHU.
But, there is a word of caution. A healthy food system needs input from all sectors, including government, business, education, health care, communities, and local residents. Without all of these sectors at the table, systemic problems could be persistent. Unless resolved, the region could continue to suffer without a unified voice.
Those wishing to join the Food Policy Council should fill out an application. The link on the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s website is currently not active. Instead, call 519-258-2146 for more information on how to join.