GETTING THE DIRT ON LOCAL FOOD Surveys Launched for Community Food Assessment
The Antigonish Food Security Coalition (AFSC) is conducting a Community Food Assessment and looking for the public’s input regarding the supply and demand for nutritious and sustainable food in Northeast Nova Scotia.
“We’re looking for information to identify trends within the local food market,” says Michael Overmars. Overmars was hired by the AFSC to conduct the Community Food Assessment and has been busy meeting and talking with local producers and suppliers. “By speaking with people in the industry, it’s easy to collect their ideas and opinions on local food. Now we just need information from the consumer; that’s where the survey comes in.”
“The idea behind the consumer survey is to get a feel for what consumers think of local food, how they get it, how much they pay for it, and what they think it is, “ says Alisha Grant, development officer at the Antigonish Regional Development Authority and AFSC board member.
The AFSC is made up of a network of active and passionate individuals, groups, and organizations working to engage and communicate with community members and organizations interested in the issue of food security.
“Through community partnerships, the AFSC is working towards increased food security in Antigonish and the region,” says Overmars. “Many people don’t fully understand the importance of food security or what it even means.”
According to the Dietitians of Canada (2007), community food security exists when all community residents obtain a safe, personally acceptable, nutritious diet through a sustainable local food system that maxims healthy choices, community self-reliance, and equal access for everyone.
“It’s important to all of us for many reasons,” explains Overmars. “Buying local food enhances our economy, environment, and our health.”
In December, the AFSC received $15,000 from the J.W. McConnell Foundation under the sustainable food system initiative to complete a community food assessment for the local region. The mission of this assessment is to develop a better understanding of the supply and demand of local food and ultimately the local food system in the area.
Through the assessment the AFSC hopes to be able to successfully identify the challenges and barriers consumers and suppliers face in obtaining and supplying locally produced food as well as to identify distribution challenges that exist between small local producers, grocery stores, and restaurants.
“We keep hearing ideas of how to make local food more available in rural communities,” says Alisha Grant, development officer at ARDA and a member of AFSC’s board. “Everything from a mobile farmers’ market and shared food storage are options. We need to find new and creative ways for producers, suppliers, and even consumers to collaborate when it comes to local food.”
“If you are a resident in Northeast Nova Scotia and have an interest in local food, we highly encourage you to complete our survey and share your experiences,” says Overmars.
The survey will be open until the end of June. There are hard copies of the survey available at the Breamore Co-op and the People’s Place Library. It’s also available online through the AFSC’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/AntigonishFSC and website: http://sustainableantigonish.ca/ under “Projects”.