The Hope and Area Food Security Coalition has come out with a three-step action plan as a result of their recent study.
They intend to attain society status, strengthen the locally-produced food system and pursue a food hub in Hope. The third point generated the most discussion at the Oct. 11 District of Hope council meeting.
According to documents provided by the Coalition, they described the food hub as a place which would host programs to address food security.
“It’s a centralized area where people can donate food, they can learn food skills, farmers could process food if they don’t have the equipment to do it themselves, they can teach job skills, they can learn Foodsafe courses,” said Coalition co-chair Anne Todd.
It would have a space for community kitchen programs, and a place that prepares and serves meals for elementary school meal programs, seniors, mental health clients and poorly-housed or low-income families.
It would also have a space for urban agriculture, co-processing facilities for local food producers and educational facilities for the community.
Todd also revealed that the Food Hub will also help with food waste. She noted that the Food Hub could gather unharvested fruit and ugly fruit that grocery stores will not sell and give it back to the community.
“It’s perfectly healthy food, and so if we can gather some of that up, process it, freeze it, can it, dry it, whatever, we can provide access to healthier food on a more regular, consistent basis for those families that are finding it difficult,” said Todd.
Coun. Bob Erickson noted that his garden sees a lot of overproduction of blueberries, apples and cucumbers, and hoped that the Food Hub could help with managing that.
Their first phase of activities to this end include applying for funding, building partnerships and establishing feasibility as well as further developing the concept.
The second goal — to strengthen the local food system in Hope — aims to work on their research’s conclusion that Hope residents want better access to local food.
They defined “local” as foodstuff produced in the Fraser Valley or Canyon, upon a request for clarification from Coun. Donna Kropp.
To that end, they have shared the research’s findings with Save-On-Foods as well as Buy-Low Foods, and co-chair Jennifer Hawkins also has a meeting with them in the next few weeks.
Going forward, their activities include pursuing an Agriculture Area Plan and working with AdvantageHOPE to feature agriculture and local food.
The Coalition’s last goal is to establish a food security non-profit entity.
“The food security society provides a backbone organization,” said Hawkins. “It’s very much gathering people together and it provides a body for advocacy.”
The society serves as a united front when dealing with partners, businesses and other stakeholders, and will manage funding and staffing.
Going forward, the Coalition will apply for society status, establish a governing structure and apply for additional funding.
The Coalition’s presentation sparked the Hope Mayor Wilfried Vicktor’s comments that having a new food source in town could potentially force grocery stores to lower their prices because of increased competition.
“I think the motivation to lower food prices here is somewhat limited,” said Vicktor, arguing that both grocery stores in Hope are owned by the same owner.
Vicktor also suggested that there might be a business case in requesting for lower prices from the grocery stores to curb out-of-town shopping.
At the Oct. 11 council meeting, the two co-chairs of the Coalition requested that council grant them a letter of support for their action plan, which was granted.