Growing resilience and equity: A food policy action plan in the context of Covid-19

Canada Focused, Featured Food, Food Security, Food Systems

This action plan from Food Secure Canada (FSC) is a call for renewing the country’s food system in response to Covid-19. The pandemic is magnifying the structural inequalities in our food systems, the insufficiencies of our social protection programs, and the challenges with the dominant food supply chains. Food insecurity in Canada is expected to double from the most recent statistics of 4.4 million people, before the end of the year. “The time for healthier, more just and sustainable food systems is now.”

Food Secure Canada’s Growing Resilience and Equity: A Food Policy Action Plan in the Context of Covid-19 charts a way forward, developed through a process of information gathering, consultation and convening with individuals and organizations involved in social movements advancing food system transformation.

“It is critical that decisions made now – when system change is understood as not only possible, but necessary – lay the foundations for resilient and equitable food futures. We need to centre those most affected, including Indigenous peoples and Black and racialized communities, as well as food workers,” said FSC Board Chair, Melana Roberts.

Within an inclusive public-interest based approach, FSC proposes that Canada focus on the following:

  • Address the root cause of food insecurity through establishing a universal livable income floor beneath which no one can fall, while ensuring that everyone in Canada has access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food;
  • Build resilient, ecological local food systems that shorten and diversify food chains, revitalize communities, ensure greater access to healthy and fresh foods, support lower-emissions food systems, build greater resiliency to shocks and reduce food loss and waste;
  • Support Indigenous food sovereignty where First Nations, Métis and Inuit determine their own place-based food systems, advancing policies that will best support self-determined resilient futures;
  • Champion decent work and justice for all workers along the food chain by ensuring decent pay and conditions for every Canadian and international food worker, and meeting the specific demands of migrant workers;
  • Ensure everyone is at the policy-making table through immediately convening, resourcing and empowering the Canadian Food Policy Advisory Council as per commitments in the Food Policy for Canada. Resources to ensure that wider civil society voices, above all those most marginalized by the present food system, should be included;
  • Harmonize Canada’s national and international food policies, prioritizing food sovereignty approaches, supporting family farms and low-input, low-emissions agroecological food production as well as sustainable processing and distribution, and
  • Immediately advance a National School Food Program, as promised in Budget 2019 and in the Food Policy for Canada, ensuring that it meets health outcomes, is universal, and is developed in collaboration with provinces, territories, key stakeholder groups and Indigenous leaders.

How to use this resource:

  • Facilitate discussion about what COVID-19 is telling us about food security and the unprecedented opening and urgency to advocate for food system change. 
  • Explore the impact of pandemic responses and recovery plans, and associated stimulus packages on food systems. 
  • Promote understanding of how COVID-19 is revealing and magnifying the structural inequalities in our food systems, the insufficiencies in our social protection programs, and the challenges with the dominant food supply chains.
  • Share this action plan widely and advocate for an inclusive public-interest approach to food policy and programming in Canada