Peterborough’s Food Charter Nourishing Community: Dietitian

‘We can’t strengthen our food system alone’

From filling schoolchildren’s bellies with Ontario-grown food to using Nourish Market Dollars to support local producers, Peterborough continues to put an emphasis on local food issues.

Those are but two examples of why the formation of the Peterborough Food Charter and follow-up food security and sustainability activities are so important, says Lauren Kennedy, a dietitian with Peterborough Public Health.

The commitment to what the charter aspires to — access to nutritious, affordable food, food security and the ushering of community food policy in a positive direction — excites Lauren. She shares her thoughts with Electric City Magazine about the importance of the Peterborough Food Charter.

“Everybody eats food and it has so many connections,” Lauren says.

“[Food] supports our health, it’s part of our culture, it is part of our economic sustainability and it’s crucial to the environment and social justice.”

“Sometimes we just think about it as what’s on the table in front of us but in reality, it supports our health, it’s part of our culture, it is part of our economic sustainability and it’s crucial to the environment and social justice. All of these things are really linked to the Peterborough Food Charter…and we can’t strengthen our food system alone.”

The Peterborough Food Charter is a guiding document to encourage the development of policies and programs that promote a healthy and just food system for all residents of Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations and the County and City of Peterborough. The charter acknowledges the right to food and is a commitment to work together to build a vibrant, sustainable, food-secure community with healthy and local food for all. It was developed based on consultation with multiple stakeholders.

In 2015, the Peterborough Public Health Board of Health reviewed a food charter from the Grey-Bruce region and expressed interest in the development of a food charter for Peterborough.

Food charters help point community food policy in a positive direction and bring people from diverse sectors together to share concerns, experiences and knowledge relating to food and agriculture in order to establish a shared vision of food security.

“Food is so critical to mental health, to physical health and it helps reduce rates of diseases,” Lauren says. A food charter connects the dots. “With collaboration, that’s when action can happen and that’s critical.”

Fortunately, Peterborough had a focus prior to the development of the charter on many food-related priorities. The charter formalizes many activities already occurring, such as the earlier-mentioned school food box initiative and Nourish Market Dollars, which allow residents to purchase fresh market wares with a special currency.

Food policy groups and food committees, such as the Peterborough Food Action Network and the Peterborough Food and Farming Workgroup, meet regularly and their work links directly back to the Peterborough Food Charter.

Furthermore, the endorsement of the food charter continues to put the emphasis on the importance of food to nourish the Peterborough community’s health and well-being, Lauren adds.

Here are the organizations that have endorsed the charter:

Lead image shows a portion of the Peterborough Food Charter document. To see the full image and description, click here.


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