Food Charters in Ontario and Beyond

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What is a Food Charter?

A Food Charter is broad community statement and/or a set of goals that describe how the members of a specified geopolitical community want their food system to be maintained.  By including the voices of various stakeholders, Food Charters encourage a broad base of support, cross-sectorial collaboration, and community connection.  Used as an education piece, Food Charters raise community awareness about food system concerns and weaknesses, and offer a platform for public discussion and advocacy.  Most importantly, Food Charters are not binding policy statements, but instead act as inspiration for how to develop local food policy and or initiatives for the community.  While Food Charters are primarily meant for food-related policy development and or initiatives, other uses include:

  • Municipal strategic planning
  • Promoting government endorsement and accountability
  • Encouraging civic engagement
  • Promoting understanding and awareness of food systems
  • Offering a long-term “reference point” for community partnerships

Food Charters generally set a vision for health, education, economic sustainability, environment, culture, and social equity, although this does vary depending on involved stakeholders.  In many existing Food Charters, these broad visions are further explained using many of the following food system considerations:

  • Environmental sustainability and management
  • Food production and agriculture
  • Health and nutrition
  • Food security
  • Land use planning
  • Local food systems
  • Food access and distribution
  • Emergency food distribution/preparedness
  • Food safety
  • Community economic development
  • Sustainable economic development
  • Waste management
  • Advocacy and education
  • Culture
  • Social justice, social equity
  • Food skills development
  • Education and awareness
  • Urban agriculture

 Who is involved?

The development of a Food Charters is a collaborative process that involves community members and groups, municipal staff and councillors, health professionals, food producers/processors/distributers, institutional food providers, social justice organizations, academics, and minority group community representatives.

 Steps to developing a Food Charter

  1. Build interest in the community through education and out-reach.
  2. Begin planning the development of a Food Charter. Seek advice on the content from stakeholders.  Consider holding a public consultation process to understand the perspectives of the community.
  3. Hold an event to determine the underlying purpose of the Food Charter.
  4. Build a first draft of the Food Charter and request feedback from the community and stakeholders.
  5. Continue the process until everyone is satisfied and approves.
  6. Finalize the Food Charter and seek municipal endorsement.
  7. If endorsed, present the Food Charter to the public through a public event, education channels, and begin working on a food council, food system strategy, and or community action plan.


Some identified challenges to the development of Food Charters include:

  •  Time and resources
  • Communication between working group members in different parts of the food system
  • Lack of producer participation
  • Encompassing all perspectives
  • Lack of public awareness
  • Food Charter endorsement by community or municipality/region
  • Lack of long-term planning following Food Charter endorsement

Food Charters in Ontario

Do you know of a Food Charter not listed here?  Let us know!

Bruce-Grey Food Charter 

Durham Region Food Charter

Guelph Wellington Food Charter

Hamilton Food Charter

Huron County Food Charter

Kawartha Lakes Food Charter

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Food Charter

London Food Charter 

Markham Food Charter

Nippising Area Food Charter

Northumberland Food Charter

Parry Sound Food Charter

Peel Food Charter

Peterborough Food Charter

Simcoe County Food and Agriculture Charter

City of Greater Sudbury Food Charter

Thunder Bay Food Charter

Toronto Food Charter

York Region Food Charter


Food Charters in Canada and Abroad

Vancouver Food Charter

Richmond (BC) Food Charter

Kaslo (BC) Food Charter

Medicine Hat (AB) Food Charter

Saskatoon Food Charter 

Manitoba Food Charter

Oregon Food Charter

Michigan Food Charter 


Visit our Food Initiatives Greenhouse here for more up-to-date resources