Access to an abundant supply of safe food is essential to Squamish citizens’ current and future health and well-being.
That is the simple idea behind the food charter set to be adopted by the District of Squamish council.
“It is very exciting,” said Michalina Hunter, the board member of Squamish Climate Action Network (Squamish CAN) who presented the charter to council at the community development standing committee July 7.
“A food charter is basically a document that provides a vision of a community’s food system, and it has been created by the community itself,” Hunter told The Squamish Chief.
The charter was originally created through collaboration with 40 different groups and adopted by Squamish CAN in 2012.
It was presented to council at the time, but never adopted by the district, Hunter said.
Squamish CAN’s food charter has five basic principles: community economic development, ecological and human health, equal access to food for everyone, collaboration and participation, and celebration and bringing people together around food.
“If you have a healthy food system, it contributes to more farming and agriculture going on, which can create jobs, more food-related businesses – like restaurants – and that just increases tourism to Squamish in general,” Hunter said.
An example of how the charter would impact a Squamish resident in a practical way is through influencing what goes into school lunches to make them healthier, Hunter said.
“I think of [the charter] as a tool of reference for the council, mayor and staff to refer to when they are making decisions,” Hunter said.
“It is nice to have that compass.”
Councillor Karen Elliott said the charter would help engage the community during the Official Community Plan (OCP) review in 2016 and would provide an opportunity for everyone in the community to think about food, “how and where it is grown, how it is distributed, and what we do with the waste.”
“It is an accountability tool, reminding us all of the values held by the community and further leveraging policy that supports the sustainability of the local food systems,” she said.
“It’s exciting to imagine our community as a place were everyone has access to fresh, abundant local food, where people come together around food to celebrate and connect, and where farmers thrive rather than just survive.”
The food charter can be viewed at squamishcan.net/squamish-food-charter/.