Vancouver “Local Food Action Plan” a chance to support better public access to plant-based food
The Vancouver Park Board is currently seeking public input through an online survey, closing January 28, on an updated “Local Food Action Plan”. The new 5-year plan will outline how the Park Board’s programming and services, which include community gardens; kitchens; food workshops; meal programs; farmers markets; concessions and restaurants, will contribute to a just and sustainable local food system.
This new plan comes at a crucial time, as society continues to deal with the COVID-19 public health pandemic and as concerns surrounding our food system continue to grow. COVID-19 has highlighted and exacerbated existing inequities within the food system. It has drawn attention to the dangerous and cruel nature of factory farms and the risks they pose as potential contributors to future pandemics; the exploitative conditions facing workers and animals on farms, in slaughterhouses and food processing plants; the connection between unsustainable, industrial food production and climate change; and the issue of food insecurity for historically underserved communities.
A growing body of research concludes that a significant shift in diets and food production toward fewer animal products and more plant-based foods is necessary. These changes are needed in order to meet our climate goals, tackle the biodiversity and factory farming crises, and to sustainably feed a growing population a healthy diet.
Food system experts are increasingly calling on all levels of government, including municipalities, to support these much-needed dietary and food system changes through food-related policies, practices and programming. The Park Board’s new Local Food Action Plan is a key opportunity for doing just that. Incorporating and prioritizing more plant-based foods, meals and education in Park Board services, such as meal programs, workshops, events and at concessions and restaurants, will help to support much-needed dietary and food system change. It will also improve public access to healthy, humane and sustainable food options.
If you’re a Vancouver resident, please consider participating in the Local Food Action Plan survey before the January 28th deadline. You’re welcome to use the recommendations we’ve listed below to guide responses about opportunities for the Park Board moving forward, but please be sure to fill out the survey in your own words and based on your own experiences.
- Animal welfare & a “just and sustainable food system” – A truly “just and sustainable local food system” will incorporate not only the protection of people, the planet and public health, but also our social responsibility for the protection of animal welfare. Therefore, a shift toward improving public access to healthy, humane, sustainable and equitable plant-based foods and diets must be reflected in the new Local Food Action Plan.
- The role of municipalities – Food system experts are calling on governments, including municipalities, to take action to support dietary and food system change that prioritizes a shift to plant-based in their plans and policies.
- Improving plant-based access & education – The Local Food Action plan is an opportunity to improve public access to plant-based foods and diets, as well as plant-based education, through Park Board services such as meal programs, fieldhouse workshops, events, farmers markets, concessions and restaurants.
- Expanding resources to under-served communities – The Local Food Action Plan should assess and address gaps in programs and services for under-served communities. This is another area where plant-based food access and education can also be enhanced.
- Emergency planning & preparedness – COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of ensuring food security programming is maintained during emergency situations and is adaptable so as to ensure communities are able to continue accessing resources.