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BC food security resilience directions in 2023

Improving the resilience of BC food supply by identifying and mitigating the effects of climate change and the increasing intensity of climate events.

food, delivery, truck
The food supply chain relies on delivery by truck. [web]

Wednesday March 1, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Food supply resilience in BC is seeing some broader scope as well as specific initiatives, based on a $160 million Food Security Initiatives line item under 2022/23 Supplementary Estimates as presented within the Budget 2023 documentation yesterday.

food security, ist

That major funding rollout has not yet had a high-profile BC Government announcement as has happened in recent weeks for the Growing Communities Fund (Feb 10), BC Cancer Foundation (Feb 24), and the new Next Gen 911 Readiness Fund (March 1).

pam alexis, agriculture
Agriculture and Food Minister Pam Alexis, on Feb 3, 2023 in Mission, BC. [media session]

Here is the outline about Food Security Initiatives (from the Budget 2023 documentation):

  • Funding for food security initiatives will support British Columbians access an affordable supply of nutritious food.
  • Through a series of targeted initiatives, the Province says it will strengthen the food supply chain across BC including local and regional food systems.
  • This includes direct food support to underserved people and communities through trusted community partners such as Food Banks BC and the United Way.
  • Dedicated funding will increase the availability of fresh food in Indigenous communities, increase food processing capacity in BC, and support the development of new and expanded local food production businesses.
  • Funding will also improve the resilience of BC food supply by identifying and mitigating the effects of climate change and the increasing intensity of climate events.

New directions:

This new set of directions may well be delivered with a cross-ministry approach.

food bank, box
The contents of food bank boxes to clients in need are often dependent on public donations and may not be of the highest quality.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is headed up by Agriculture and Food Minister Pam Alexis, who took over that ministry just a few months ago (when Premier David Eby announced his new Cabinet on December 7, 2022). A few weeks ago, House Leader Ravi Kahlon said the BC government would be coming out with a range of initiatives to support food sustainability.

ravi kahlon
House Leader Ravi Kahlon after the Throne Speech, Feb 6, 2023. [web]

Saying that the loss of farmland in California due to drought and wildfires will impact supply chains of food that heads into BC, Kahlon said in the media briefing that followed the February 6 BC Throne Speech 2023:

“So we need to prepare. The food security piece is going to be critically important for us both on ensuring we’re supporting our farmers to produce food closer to home and process food closer to home.”

Kahlon says Alexis has been “working overtime since she got the portfolio to bring a whole list of measures forward”.

Vancouver Island resilience:

Here on Vancouver Island, only about three percent of the food consumed is grown locally. In the event of a major emergency that significantly interrupts food supply chains through the disruption of highways, ferries or air service, islanders would soon be pretty much stranded. Local and regional organization around food supply resilience is an obvious situation to improve.

katrine conroy, finance minister
BC Finance Minister Katrine Conroy delivered Budget 2023 on Feb 28, 2023 in Victoria.

The aspect of food security directly to children in BC schools was promoted by Finance Minister Katrine Conroy at an SD62 elementary school in Langford this week, the day ahead of her presentation of Budget 2023 in which she said that children don’t learn well on an empty stomach.

Changing to a well-being approach:

“When kids get those healthy meals they learn better,” says Katrine Conroy about what she hears from teachers (as she said in the BC Legislative Assembly today), in reminding about the K-12 food program.

sonia furstenau, bc green
BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau in the BC Legislative Assembly on March 1, 2023. [Hansard]

Meanwhile, today in the legislature BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said that a paradigm shift is required to deliver universal food programs in schools, not just to low-income targeted classrooms or communities.

The BC Green Party leader urges the BC government to deliver support measured by well-being parameters not GDP, noting that BC takes direction from bankers (12 of 13 advisors in the December 2022 Economic Outlook discussion with the Finance Minister were economics or heads of banks).

Looking at individual and collective well-being is important as a measure of government leadership success, she says, noting that the federal government has a quality of life index.

sooke, food chi, seedy saturday

===== RELATED:

Egg production in BC (Mar 2, 2023)

BC Budget 2023: affordability and investments, but three deficit years upcoming (Feb 28, 2023)

BC food security direction includes watchful eye on California (Feb 6, 2023)

Economists see housing and risk-vs-uncertainty as key challenges in 2023 (Dec 6, 2022)

Food Security News by Island Social Trends (archive)

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mary p brooke
Mary P Brooke, Editor, Island Social Trends

Island Social Trends emerged in mid-2020 from a preceding series of publications by founder/editor Mary P Brooke and published by Brookeline Publishing House Inc, covering news of the Vancouver Island region, BC and national issues through a socioeconomic lens.

The publication series began with MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), then morphed to a weekly print newspaper Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and then into the weekly PDF/print West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). The news at IslandSocialTrends.ca (2020 to present) is entirely online.

Among many other qualifications, Mary Brooke holds a B.Sc. in Foods & Nutrition, as well as Certificate in Public Relations and an industry certificate in digital marketing. She reports with the BC Press Gallery.