On May 28, 2020, the Northern Environmental Action Team (NEAT) held its first virtual town hall called Parenting and Food Security. These town halls are designed as a way to bring community members together virtually to discuss important issues in and around Fort St. John.
Food security is top of mind in Fort St. John, particularly in light of COVID-19. This town hall provided an opportunity for community members and food security leaders to connect and share ideas, initiatives, and visions for a food secure future. Panelists included:
- Kathy Scheck – Principal of Margaret “Ma” Murray Community School
- Laurel Burton – Population Health Dietitian, Regional Lead, Food Security, Population and Preventive Public Health
- Reg Whitten – Agrologist, Founder of Moberly Lake’s Boreal Centre for Sustainability
- Bess Legault – Northern Cohort Coordinator, Owner/Operator, Hip Peace Produce
Each panelist offered different perspectives on community food security and local food systems capacity building. Specific initiatives were mentioned, such as the Edible Trees initiative, Hip Peace Produce, and the beginning of a North East BC food hub. There was interest and agreement to begin looking beyond the COVID-19-related emergency food responses, and look into future food systems planning. Supporting food secure communities means:
- Building strong local food systems that support both producer and consumer.
- Centering traditional food systems and Indigenous food sovereignty.
- Preserving the natural environment.
- Teaching gardening and food skills in schools.
- Supporting all community members to access food.
Building a strong, resilient local food system, supporting food systems capacity building, and ensuring all people have access to food will help support community health and prevent future food system disruptions.