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Food Security and Community food programs in Manitoba and Saskatchewan . Is CED making a difference in food security ? SSHRC Congress, Saskatoon 2007 Shirley Thompson, University of Manitoba, Paul Fieldhouse, Healthy Living, MB gov . Community Food Security.

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Food Security and Community food programs in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

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food security and community food programs in manitoba and saskatchewan

Food Security and Community food programs in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

Is CED making a difference in food security?

SSHRC Congress, Saskatoon 2007

Shirley Thompson, University of Manitoba,

Paul Fieldhouse, Healthy Living, MB gov

community food security
Community Food Security

“ a condition in which all residents obtain a safe, culturally appropriate, nutritionally sound diet through an economically and environmentally sustainable food system that promotes community self-reliance and social justice!”

Hamm & Bellows

food insecurity
Food Insecurity
  • Food insecurity rates across Canada are 9.1% (9.4% in Manitoba and 8.1% in Saskatchewan) (CCHS, 2004).
  • Much higher among households in sub-population groups such as:

- lowest income adequacy quintile (55%)

- social assistance recipients (62%)

- Aboriginals (33%)*

Source: CCHS, 2004, Shields, 2007.

food insecurity interventions
Food Insecurity Interventions
  • Social policy (healthy minimum wages, healthy social assistance rates, etc.)
  • Food & healthy policy (food charters, ACTNOW! in BC requires food security be considered by PH)
  • Community food programs CED (farmer markets, community shared agriculture (CSA), buying clubs or good food boxes, school breakfast programs, community gardens, NHFI, food co-ops, subsistence hunting subsidies ).
pay the rent or feed the kids
Pay the Rent or Feed the kids?
  • Table 1: Maximum allowable rent rates allowed by Manitoba Family Services on Welfare Cheque
  • According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s October 2003 figures, the average cost of a 2-bedroom apartment in Winnipeg was $645.
  • Even the toilet bowl in our place had ice frozen over it… and I was getting sick of living like that…being cold and running away from mice…” For this house, lacking in basic sanitation and heat, Louise paid $500 per month, $70 over her rent budget, with the extra money extracted from her food money. “I was living on $225 [for food] with 3 kids and 2 adults.”
  • Miko and Thompson, 2004.
some considerations for community food programs
Some considerations for Community food programs

1. Production and use of local food and food services (e.g., “make it, bake it, grow it”)

2. Establishment of stable social enterprises that foster grassroots decision-making, active participation and long term employment for community residents.

3. Healthy and affordable food access – reach many low income people and affordable/marketed to low income.

Community Economic Development (CED), of Women and the Economy project, UN Program for Action Committee (2006).

Using local resources to meet local needs while at the same time creating healthy and economically viable communities.

CED is about working with communities to develop positive and sustainable processes, not imposing a system from outside the community. CED looks at all aspects of the economy, not just commercial, and is a powerful tool in working towards happy, healthy communities (UNPAC, 2006).

  • Interviews with people from CBOs, observations/tours and 4 workshops with community based organizations and 2 government.
  • Consider impact of CED on food security based on scale, access to low income, job generation, sustainable food systems and government support.
farmers markets in saskatchewan
Farmers Markets in Saskatchewan
  • Year round or extended period (4-7 months in Regina and many other locations and year round 5 days/week in Saskatoon)
  • Premium prices enable farmers (including urban gardeners) and food producers to decent incomes.
  • Funding and support (e.g., $30 million River Landing Development funded by all levels of government and owned by Saskatoon City.
farmers markets in manitoba
Farmers Markets in Manitoba
  • No markets operate more than 3 -4 months (14 day permit for food vendors (& Brandon market shut down) has sent out the message that seasonal weekly markets only allowed.
  • 2007/08 started to have a Manitoba’s farmer market association.
  • - Limited or no financial support from government. St. Norbert market infrastructure funded through St. Norbert Foundation wanting to revitalize their community.
community shared agriculture csa
Community Shared Agriculture (CSA)
  • System linking local farm to local consumers who purchase subscription shares of the year’s harvest from a local organic farm. CSA shareholders provide the start-up capital necessary for farmers to purchase seeds, supplies and soil amendments and share the risks for farming (e.g., poor harvests).


  • Earthshare CSA (out of business in 2007) provided jobs for refugees and immigrants and 150 boxes for 12x.
  • Weins farm in Winnipeg -- $400 for 100 boxes, 12-14x of fresh organic vegetable with work for food option.
child and health education program chep good food box
Child and Health Education Program (CHEP) Good food box
  • VISION: “Community where good nutritious food is always available for everyone no matter what their circumstances, where there is care for the environment, support for farmers, access to local food production, and knowledge about making healthy food choices.”
  • Karen Archibald, Executive Director of CHEP explains: “Poor people have less money to risk and so the CSA model won’t work as if the years farming failed people would lose all their food money. They need to get good value and every week we show how much more the produce would cost if bought in a regular store. Delivery with respect is provided when there is need due to lack of transportation. The box is meant to balance out food bank use, which is a lot of starches and no fresh fruit/vegetables. A CED approach requires that we listen respectfully and are responsive to our members needs”.
  • Buys legumes, fruits and vegetables in volume to:
    • fill 1000-1800 good food boxes a month,
    • community kitchens and
    • provide 35 schools/organizations breakfast and/or lunch programs daily.
  • Delivered bi-monthly to 75 volunteer drop-off locations, having a:
    • $17 regular fruit and vegetable box,
    • $12 small fruit and vegetable box,
    • $30 organic box.
    • $5 boxes to three aboriginal communities – Mistowassis, White Cap and Beardee – in the Saskatoon area; and
    • mini stores in seniors’ apartments.
chep funding
CHEP funding
  • Income from good food box sales provides about two thirds of good food box funding.
  • The Province of Saskatchewan has granted core funding since 1991, and now provides about $400,000 annually, almost one third of CHEP’s budget of over $1 million.
  • Other funding comes from the City of Saskatoon and the United Way, as well as private fundraising, donations and partnerships.
the northern healthy foods initiative nhfi
The Northern Healthy Foods Initiative (NHFI)
  • Community-based intervention funded by the provincial government of Manitoba, which is designed to increase access to affordable nutritious food in Northern Manitoba communities.
  • NHFI team includes:
    • Aboriginal and Northern Affairs
    • Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI)
    • Healthy Living
    • Manitoba Conservation
    • Healthy Child Manitoba
food security issues in northern manitoba
Food security issues in Northern Manitoba
  • High costs
  • Decline of hunting and fishing
  • Trading of traditional foods limited by Indian Act
  • Freight costs
  • High diabetes and obesity rates
  • Treaty Land Rights
  • Northern Store monopoly

(Northern Food Prices Steering Committee, 2003; Usher, 2004, Thompson, 2006)

nihb expenditures in manitoba region by benefit fy 2003 2004
NIHB Expenditures In Manitoba Region by Benefit (FY 2003/2004






Total: $127.8 M

projected number of people with diabetes mb first nations 1996 2016
Projected Number of People with Diabetes MB First Nations, 1996-2016

Source: epiunit/docs/storm.pdf

Diabetes treatment prevalence is 4.2 times higher for First Nations people compared to all Manitobans (18.9% vs 4.54%)

making it work the community based organizations cbos
Making it work: the Community-based organizations (CBOs):

1) Bayline Regional Roundtable;

2) Northern Association of Community Councils (NACC);

3)Four Arrows Regional Health Authority Inc.; and

4)Frontier School Division.

  • CBOs build capacity in local production of food for local consumption, choose nutritional foods, implement strategies to lower the cost for healthy foods, leverage funding for projects, and create food based economic development opportunities.
solutions that are working nhfi pilot project in 17 communities
Solutions that are working: NHFI Pilot project in 17+ communities?
  • 1) community gardens (273);
  • 2) greenhouse pilot projects (3-5 );
  • 3) increasing access to nutritious commercial food (direct buy, retail, federal food mail subsidy, co-ops, etc).
  • 4) school nutrition (healthy lunch/breakfast, education);
  • 5) increasing access to country foods (hunting, fishing, berries, production, etc).
  • 6) food preservation (freezer, cold cellars, canning)
  • ++Other (poultry production, etc)

Standard size composter for community garden plot composting enriches poor soil and reduces waste.

Testing soil

Photocredit: Jessica Paley

northern healthy food initiative
Northern Healthy Food Initiative

Photocredit: Manitoba Food charter

proposed evaluation components
Proposed Evaluation Components.
  • Collect indicators for each of 17 communities through CBOs, community assessment and/or by observation in ~10 communities.
  • Day of Focus groups at Harvest Forum 2008 for 20-40 people divided into two to four different focus groups.
  • Interviews, document analysis and SWOTs carried out with NHFI team and CBOs about NHFI.
  • Surveys provided to participants in different programs (school breakfast/lunch program, school greenhouse education, community garden, freezer projects, etc).
  • Community-based assessment with 3 to 10 communities
  • Household food security survey randomly chosen carried out with 50-100 people in at least 3 communities AND 50-100 people in 3 non-participating communities
  • CHEP and NHFI programs provide regional models of how CBOs can focus efforts on access to healthy affordable food that reduce population level food security. They benefit all BUT need some external on-going supports/funding.
  • Food programs at neighbourhood scale have little reach and are often short-term .
  • Farmers markets and CSAs provide limited or no benefit to low income consumers – while being a business incubator and providing local, more sustainable food to middle/high income.
community food assessment steps
Community Food AssessmentSteps


  • Identify a group of key stakeholders
  • Organize initial meeting(s)
  • Determine the group’s interest in conducting an assessment
  • Identify and recruit other participants, representing diverse interests and skills


  • Determine assessment purposes and goals
  • Develop an overall plan and decision-making process
  • Recruit and train staff and volunteers as needed
  • Create evaluation plan
  • Determine appropriate research methods
  • Collect and analyze data from existing and original sources
  • Summarize assessment findings


  • Develop recommendations and action plan
  • Develop communications strategy
  • Clearly frame and articulate the message
  • Disseminate findings to residents and policymakers through meetings and materials
  • Develop specific policy recommendations
  • Evaluate and celebrate assessment outcomes
potential benefits of community food assessments
Potential Benefits of Community Food Assessments

Involve and Empower the Community

  • Engage residents in collaborative learning about food-related needs and resources
  • Build capacity for effective, collaborative action to improve the community

Improve Existing Programs and Create New Ones

  • Identify gaps and potential for improvement
  • Increase community awareness and utilization of existing resources

Develop Advocacy Skills and Change Public Policy

  • Build residents’ skills to organize and advocate for policy change
  • Educate media and policymakers with compelling, research-based results

Improve Access to Healthy Foods

  • Increase availability of local, fresh produce in stores, schools, etc.
  • Improve the selection of products available in neighborhood stores