Good Food Policy And Program Ideas

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Ontario currently faces skyrocketing health care costs, chronic disease epidemics, a volatile economy, shrinking rural communities, a farm income crisis, and climate change impacts.

Good food policies and programs have the potential to grow Ontario’s economy, reduce our health care spending, improve our environmental impact, reduce poverty, and improve educational outcomes.

If adopted, the following good food policy and program ideas would not only position Ontario as a leader in food, farming, health, sustainability, and economy, but would ensure the future prosperity and wellbeing of our province.

1. Support the Growth of Ontario’s Food Economy

Support Local and Sustainable Food Procurement for Institutions: Develop local and sustainable food procurement targets for public sector institutions and provide incentives and supports to enable them to meet the targets.

Provide Grants and Loans for Local Processing: Consolidate and expand local food value added and processing grants and loans.

Support Small and Medium Food Processors to Meet Regulations: Review existing food safety regulations and enforcement to ensure that they are appropriate to different scales and are outcomes oriented rather than prescriptive. Ensure that food safety enforcement enables existing and new small and medium food processors navigate regulations and provide support for compliance with food safety regulations.

Enable On-Farm Value-Adding: Provide relief from municipal taxation and zoning restrictions for on-farm value-added enterprises.

Continue and expand the Ontario Marketing Investment Fund: Expand OMIF to also include strengthening regional supply chain development and developing regional food hubs.

2. Develop Markets for Ecological Goods and Services

Pilot Ecological Goods and Services Programs: Fund new Alternative Land Use Services pilot projects across the province to further investigate the efficacy of community-based environmental action.

Quantify Impacts: Develop quantification protocols to measure the value of on-farm ecological services such as carbon sequestration sites, groundwater recharge areas, vegetative filter strips, and wildlife habitat.

Develop Markets: Develop market mechanisms to allow farmers to be compensated for the ecological goods and services they provide.

3. Ensure the Agricultural Future of Ontario

Train New Farmers: Provide funding and support for new farmer training.

Make Capital Available to Farmers: Work with farmers and financial institutions to develop shared savings plans, pension plans, and grants, loans, and operating capital for new and established farmers.

Preserve Agricultural Land: Enact plans and policies to ensure that all prime farmland remains in production.

4. Enable all Ontarians to Access Healthy Food

Set Social Assistance Rates Considering the Cost of Food: Consider the cost of Nutritious Food Baskets when setting social assistance rates across the province.

Support Community-Based Food Programs: Enable communities to address their own food access needs by supporting community-based food programs including community food centres, good food boxes, community gardens, food co-ops, good food vouchers, community markets, community compost, and community kitchens.

Make Local and Sustainable Food Accessible: Develop programs to make local and sustainable food more accessible.

Increase the Health Promotion Budget: Expand healthy food programming across the province by increasing the health promotion budget from 0.35% the provincial budget to 0.5% of the budget.

5. Promote Healthy Food Choices and Food Education

Fund Student Nutrition: Renew and increase the Ontario Student Nutrition Program to ensure that all children have access to a healthy breakfast and snack every day.

Teach Kids About Food: Integrate education about food into the Ontario curriculum at all levels.

Build Food Into Schools: Provide infrastructure grants for schools to enable them to build kitchens, buy food processing equipment and create school gardens.

Support Healthy and Local Food: Provide incentives to encourage schools to provide healthy and local food options, such as salad bars and local ingredients.

 Advocate for Federal Funding: Advocate for federal funding of student nutrition.

6.  Collaborate Across Ministries and Jurisdictions on Food Policy Issues.

 Find New Opportunities: Bring all ministries that relate to food together along with community members to identify opportunities to create a stronger economy and a healthier province through food. Create a Provincial Food Secretariat or Food Policy Council.

Support Networks: Support regional and municipal efforts to bring stakeholders from across the food chain together to promote food systems linkages.