Help fight hunger with local awareness

Hunger is such a pressing problem across the world, that in 1945 a day was set aside to raise international awareness of the issue. Called World Food Day, it was created by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and each year a different theme is adopted to highlight areas requiring action.

Locally, Simcoe County project consultant Brittany Doner supports the Food Partners Alliance of Simcoe County, which in turn supports the event through the Simcoe County Food and Agriculture Charter.

The Charter was created with the County of Simcoe, and supported by County Council, to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the local food system. Doner also works on the 10-year long term Affordable Housing Strategy.

“The two areas are related as both the need for food, and the need for housing, often are linked to the issues of poverty. Affordability is such a key issue when it comes to being able to obtain food and obtain housing,” says Doner.

She explains that the demographics of people needing that help fall into similar categories and it is often tied to income.

“We also like to make this global event locally relevant, by highlighting some of the local poverty reduction and food security initiatives,” she explains.

This year’s theme is “Zero Hunger”, and the county holds events throughout the year to try to tackle food insecurity. This summer, they convened with the Food Partner’s Alliance (FPA), the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit, United Way and other community partners for a food security forum.

There they discussed community food insecurity as well as household food insecurity, which are different.

“Community food insecurity can be things like ensuring that enough food is produced locally, so that in the event of a natural disaster or some kind of issue that affects global prices in food markets, you’re not vulnerable to not being able to feed people in your community.”

They also work to increase access to avoid any “food deserts” where there may be a rural community that’s miles away from a grocery store.

According to Doner, County council has tentatively endorsed funding of $40,000 to support a local strategy to address food insecurity.

FPA also hosted its fifth annual Food and Agriculture Charter Champion Awards in Aug. that “recognizes individuals, businesses and organizations that uphold Charter principles.”

Increased education and skills is also important in the development of healthier communities. “We live in kind of a fast food world, pre-prepped foods and want to make sure that people in our community are familiar with that base ingredient that we’re growing, how to prepare it, what we can grow locally, what grows in what seasons,” says Doner.

“The biggest message is really that we hope that World Food Day events help to increase awareness and really illustrate that hunger is a problem in every community across the world,” says Doner.

The FPA also have a community calendar where they promote activities and events that local organizations hold related to food security like community gardens, farmers markets, and fall fairs. Food programs and information on how to get involved with the FPA are listed daily on #211 which can be dialed from your phone.

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Photo: Julie Barker and Susan Hearst (centre) accept the Best Community Garden award on behalf of the Midland Community Garden. The Charter Champion Awards were presented by County of Simcoe Warden, Gerry Marshall (left) and Mayor of Tiny Township, George Cornell (right) at the Farm Fresh Food Fest event in August.

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