Thunder Bay food strategy highlights challenges at local dinner table

Thunder Bay's Food strategy released its initial 'report card' to city councillors Monday night, and it shows the demand for local food outstrips its supply.
Kendal Donahue (l), Thunder Bay's Food Strategy Coordinator, and Catherine Schwartz-Mendez (r), the Food Action Network Chair with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit make a presentation to Thunder Bay city council on Monday night about the city's food security.

Thunder Bay's Food strategy released its initial 'report card' to city councillors Monday night, and it shows the demand for local food outstrips its supply.

The report highlighted some of the challenges in ensuring access to healthy, affordable local food.

Kendal Donahue, Thunder Bay's Food Strategy Coordinator, said a decrease in the amount of farms in the area, and land actively cultivated doesn't show the entire story.

She said that farm receipts, or product being sold, as well as investment has actually increased.

"While the number of farmers may have technically increased, it doesn't necessarily speak to the scale of the operations. So, we have very few farms in the area, for instance, that are able to wholesale food."

Donahue said that creates a challenge, as a third party is now needed to coordinate what products farms are selling and distributing, to make it easier for consumers to buy local.

She also said more farmers are needed to help keep up with local demand.

"Probably a greater amount of vegetables and fruits. I don't think we're anywhere near supplying what we could with the local market. Even with beef, we're only supplying about one percent of the local market."

A major piece of the report also dealt with the cost of food. It notes that one in ten homes in the city cannot afford to purchase healthy food.

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