Food Charter would guide political decision-making (con't)

The groups include the United Way, health unit, Downtown Windsor Farmers Market, and Food Matters, a partnership “to increase access to healthy food…..the ability for everyone to access affordable, safe, nutritious, healthy food.”

Food Matters coordinator Michele Legere said the Charter, which would also go before all other municipalities in the county, would be kind of an official planning document.

It would have a “statement of values or principles,” where city and town councils would try to enact policies that would endeavour to provide access to nutritious food and support for local farmers.

It could means that if a community centre caters a luncheon it tries to source locally.

It could be making sure that skills training for people on social assistance include how to cook nutritiously.

“If a community group went to the city and says ‘We want permission to close down a street because we’re going to have a food celebration,’ that could be supported through the Food Charter,” Legere said.

Legere said the document is therefore something “you can sort of hold up to the mirror” to guide official government policy.

 “It’s also about people having choice over the food that they buy,” Legere said. 

“People on assistance who are using mainstream emergency food sources, a lot of the time those are food banks who are doing a wonderful job but that often times doesn’t allow for people to have choice or control over the food that they’re getting.”

The same happens when they go into a grocery store where the cheapest food might not always be the best.

“So if they’re limited by finances they always have to pick whatever’s the cheapest….it becomes the processed food,” Legere said.

One effort to embrace more “equitable” sourcing took place this past summer.

The City of Windsor provided “Market Dollars” so people on social assistance could buy food from local farmers.

The project was funded through United Way.

Those selling food were given vouchers they exchanged for cash.

Dozens of $20 voucher or “Market Dollar” packets were handed out to people who lived near the downtown market. 

A review of the program’s success will take place Nov. 26 at the Caboto Club is free but registration is required.

“What we’ll be doing is trying to bring all of the key stakeholders together and asking them to help us determine whether this was a viable project,” she said.

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