Opinion

Plenty of food security successes in 2012

It feels like the past year has come and gone too quickly.

Reflection is a critical aspect of improvement; by analyzing mistakes and successes we learn from them and improve. In our busy lives, filled with personal and professional obligations, taking time to look back is a critical part of how we improve both individually and as a society.

Let’s take a moment to look back over the past year and highlight some of the successes around food security and sustainable food systems that have happened here in our city.

Firstly, 2012 has been an amazing year to be returning to my hometown to work in food security and sustainable food. The amount of talent, passion and community that exists in Richmond serves as a source of inspiration to addressing an area of immense challenge.

The partnerships and relationships that exist between the many and varied organizations exemplifies the depth of networks of engaged practitioners here in this city. These organizations range from grassroots to faith-based, institutional to governmental, and all working in concert to address Richmond’s diverse food issues.

Aside from the many successful partnerships that have sprung up over the past year between different organizations, there have been a number of schools and community centres in Richmond that are becoming increasingly interested in food and gardening, including R.A. McMath Secondary, General Currie and Steveston Community Centre.

Opportunities such as these provide children and youth with out-of-classroom learning while developing concrete life skills. Healthy choices become visible and relevant to all people engaged with gardens including staff, teachers, parents, students and community members.

A second area of success has been in policy development. The City of Richmond has approved the 2041 Official Community Plan—Moving Towards Sustainability, which has an entire chapter devoted to agriculture and food security. Much of the input for this document was done in consultation with community organizations and the city staff who work closely with these groups. As well, Richmond’s local chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women had successfully mobilized the national organization to have food security and agriculture as an advocacy issue pertinent to all Canadians.

Another highlight is the research done by the Richmond Food Security Society, which is wrapping up an inventory of under-utilized and vacant lands that can be converted to food production activities and a Foodland Strategic Plan for the next few years.

Richmond Children First released the Richmond Children’s Charter that included over 3,000 children identifying children’s rights, one of which is the “right to nutritious food and a healthy life.”

A number of food security and sustainable food events occur every year in Richmond, including Seedy Saturday, Earth Day, and World Food Day.

Media and art play an important role in our community. A number of films shown in Richmond have focused on food issues and were shown at the Your Kontinent Film Festival.

Looking back on the past year demonstrates the progress that Richmond is making in addressing food security in a complex situation of competing pressures.

Many more activities and initiatives are ongoing, such as community meals and the Richmond Food Bank’s food distribution. Be proud of the work that has been done and will continue to be done here in our community. And know that whenever you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and dig in, there are a lot of passionate people who can help you make a difference.

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