PEI Food Security Network Weighs in on a Local Food Awareness Act

Female hands holding an aubergine

The PEI Government is in the process of developing a Local Food Awareness Act, and they are asking for input. Here’s what the Food Security Network said:  PEIFSN_Food_Awareness_Submission

And read the submission by the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women (a member of the PEIFSN) here: final-peiacsw-food-awareness-act-nov-2018

Food awareness should encompass the whole system, from the ways in which food is produced or harvested, and its effects on the land, water, wildlife and soils, through its processing, distribution and consumption. The whole food system, including waste and disposal. Also included, all of the people who provide the labour and the conditions under which they work.

Food awareness should include awareness of the contribution that the food system makes to GHG emissions worldwide and therefore climate change. Especially the significant impact of industrial agriculture, and a system that is so focused on producing food for export to countries around the world.

Food awareness should take into account all of the traditions of all of the people living in PEI and recognize that food has spiritual and cultural meaning in all of our communities. Our vision for food awareness would respect the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaw people, the ways in which this land has been used to gather, cultivate and hunt for food.

Food awareness is about recognizing and striving to understand the root causes of food insecurity. It is also about developing strategies to reduce food insecurity, based on social justice, not charity.

Prince Edward Island undoubtedly produces very high quality, healthy food. And celebrating that fact is a great idea. Also celebrating workers, and the producers who are making substantial efforts to preserve soil, water, forests – the ecosystem in general, would be a great idea. The vision should include celebrating the small farmers who make healthy, often sustainably produced food available in farmers’ markets and through community-supported agriculture. As well as the people in our communities who, often as volunteers, support farmers’ markets in so many Island communities. And those small general stores in rural communities that provide an essential service.

BUT maybe we could shift the discussion, to a Local Food Act, the vision of which would be a more sustainable, locally based food system. In which every person regardless of where they live, has access to healthy, food, provided by local producers who themselves have a livable income. A vision which accepts that food is sacred, is at the centre of many of our cultural traditions and in many ways at the centre of our communities.

A Food Awareness Act for PEI

af_food_awareness_act_webThe PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is developing a “Food Awareness Act”. While the focus seems to be on establishing a Food Awareness Day and a Food Awareness Week, the legislation will also include the option for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries to set annual local food goals or objectives for organizations in PEI.

This is something the PEI Food Security Network has been talking about for some time now. We believe if schools, nursing homes, hospitals and other government-run institutions were required to purchase a percentage of their food locally, everybody would win. Local producers would have a secure market. And patients, students and others would have access to healthy food.

The Department if Agriculture and Fisheries is looking for public input as it moves ahead with this legislation. You can find a discussion guide and a set of questions here: Food Awareness Act for Prince Edward Island


Migrant Workers’ Rights on the Table


Seventy people from Island community and faith organizations and from government departments joined a group of migrant workers for a full day of presentations and discussion aimed at increasing our collective understanding of the challenges faced by migrant workers living in this province. We heard from migrant workers, experts in federal and provincial policy, and organizations working to promote the rights of migrant workers. The theme was food sovereignty, and the role migrant workers play in our food system. Out of the conversations there emerged many ideas for advocacy and policy and actions to support migrant workers to be treated fairly and recognized for the important roles they play in our economy.

Throughout the day there emerged several RECOMMENDATIONS for policy work and actions.

Federal Policy Recommendations

  • Expand eligibility for IRCC-funded settlement services to include migrant workers
  • End Closed Work Permits – make Work Permits OPEN, not tied to one employer
  • Employment Standards coverage for Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) workers
  • Access to Permanent Residency for all workers

Provincial Policy Recommendations

  • Legislation that: requires registration of employers; licenses recruiters; and bans recruitment fees
  • Labour laws to cover agricultural workers
  • Legislation that defines acceptable work and living space
  • Proactive enforcement of legislation and anti-reprisals mechanism
  • Funding for support services for migrant workers including language training
  • Systematic distribution of information on rights, recourses and services
  • Encourage permanent residence through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
  • Provincial healthcare coverage for all migrant workers on arrival

Recommendations for Immediate Action

These recommendations for immediate action emerged from the discussions:

  • Create a report indicating where workers are coming from and where they are working in PEI, highlighting the experiences of some of the workers
  • Ask Government to develop a registry to make sure we know where all the workers are in PEI
  • Involve PEI migrant workers in national & local advocacy networks
  • Challenge the PEI government to establish legislation specific to migrant workers

Read the whole report here: Living & Thriving Migrant Worker forum 2018

Living and Thriving: A Forum about Supporting Migrant Workers in PEI

You are invited to a public forum to examine the vital role of Migrant Workers in PEI’s food system and the largely policy-driven limitations that these workers face.

For some time, policies at the national and provincial level have acted as barriers to migrant workers’ rights. In PEI and across Canada, there is a growing movement to eliminate barriers for workers through public education, community solidarity, and changes to policies at national and provincial levels.

The Forum will be held at the PEI Farm Centre on Friday, April 27 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. (Registration will open at 8:30 am.) It will feature several guest speakers:

Marisa Berry Méndez (Canadian Council for Refugees), who works on issues related to the settlement and integration of refugees and other vulnerable migrants;

Gabriel Allahdua (Justice for Migrant Workers), a migrant worker from St. Lucia and member of Justice for Migrant Workers, a volunteer-run migrant worker advocacy organization located in Ontario; and

Connie Sorio (KAIROS Canada), a community organizer and advocate for the rights and welfare of temporary foreign workers in Canada.

There will be presentations and group discussions on topics such as health care, housing access, and the role of Migrant Workers in our economy. The day will conclude with a presentation of the strategies and next steps for action, as determined through participants’ discussion on each topic.

Please pre-register at Eventbrite.

This event is organized by Cooper Institute and the PEI Action Team for Migrant Worker Rights, which includes representatives from the Council of Canadians (PEI), Breaking the Silence Maritimes Guatemala Solidarity Network, PEI Food Security Network, and others. It is supported by the Canadian Union of Public Employees and CUPE-PEI, United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Church of Canada (Maritime Conference and PEI Presbytery), KAIROS and Kairos Atlantic.

Let’s Talk Food – What Was Said

Participant 5.jpg

Over eighty people attended Let’s Talk Food on November 19, 2017. They took part in many, many discussions on a diversity of topics. Read the full report here: Let’s Talk Food 2017 Report

Let’s Talk Food was hosted by the PEI Food Security Network, in partnership with the City of Charlottetown and the United Way of PEI. The event was designed to gather people together, to share their experiences and knowledge, to make connections and to develop a shared vision to inform policy and initiate collective action to create a healthy food system.

The day was designed to allow groups to form around key topics to support actions that promote food security. Participants included primary producers, preparers of food, people from faith communities and community organizations, people involved in food innovation, educators, students, government representatives, food activists and volunteers. Continue reading

Let’s Talk Food

22195952_1476947842341649_9113084289555229862_nYou’re Invited!

Let’s Talk Food – Thursday, November 9, 2017
Let’s Talk – 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Let’s Take Action – 3:00pm-4:30pm
Location: Murchison Centre, 17 St. Pius X Avenue, Charlottetown, PE

To register, please visit

This is a free event and lunch will be provided.

The City of Charlottetown, the Food Security Network, and the United Way of PEI invite you to join us for an engaging and interactive event focused on Food.

Prince Edward Island has been referred to as Canada’s Food Island, the Garden of the Gulf, and a Foodie’s Paradise. We are fortunate to be acknowledged for the high quality food we bring to the table but we must also recognize that for many Islanders there is trouble in paradise. According to the Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (2014), 15.2% of households in Prince Edward Island experience marginal to severe food insecurity. The experience of food insecurity can range from concerns about running out of food, and not being able to afford healthy food, to going hungry due to missing meals, or in extreme cases not eating for days at a time due to inability to afford food.

Whether the focus is positive or negative, public engagement in food on our Island is high, making the time ripe for discussions around our current food system. Our vision for the Let’s Talk Food event is to bring together the many industries, organizations, and individuals who are integrally linked to our Food system on Prince Edward Island to talk about their common interests the issues that matter to them. From these conversations, we hope to harvest ideas, make plans and get to action.

We hope you can join us for this interactive exploration of PEI’s food system. To register, please visit

For additional details please contact:
Jessica Brown, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator for the City of Charlottetown
902-629-6368 or

Step Up to the Plate 2017


The PEI Food Exchange is hosting their annual fundraising event, Step Up to the Plate, on October 24th and you’re invited! 

Taking place at the Farm Centre, the evening will feature a locally-sourced vegetarian-friendly dinner prepared by Chef Emily Wells, an ‘appy’ hour, silent and live auctions, and plenty more.

All funds raised will go toward supporting the grassroots work of the PEI Food Exchange and its Community Food Mentor graduates.

Tickets for the dinner can be purchased from event organizers, at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market (on Oct 14 only) or at the Voluntary Resource Centre (81 Prince St, Charlottetown). Visit Food Exchange PEI on Facebook or call Shannon at 902-213-7298 for more information.

A Food Policy for Canada – Have Your Say!

Food Secure Canada (FSC) has prepared this short analysis to encourage thoughtful participation in the online survey towardsA Food Policy for Canada (link is external) led by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). For a general background on national food policy, read our primer.

Canadians are invited to complete a short online survey(link is external), open until July 27, 2017, about the objectives that should guide Canada’s first National Food Policy (NFP). According to a high ranking government official, over 16,000 people have participated in the online consultations so far. This is an impressive and encouraging number of Canadians who care deeply about our food system!

Although the online survey is less open-ended than other recent government consultations, for example the Healthy Eating Strategy or the Poverty Reduction Strategy, FSC is encouraging its members and the wider food movement to participate.

The online survey is framed around the four themes of the government’s consultation:

• increasing access to affordable food;

• improving health and food safety;

• conserving our soil, water, and air; and

• growing more high-quality food.

The overall focus is on “how objectives should be prioritised for short-term action.” When you open the survey you will quickly see the structure which is based around ranking a series of listed objectives, within and between the four pillars. However this feels misaligned if you take a food-systems perspective.

The exercise can be frustrating for people who believe in a joined-up food policy — the very essence of which is to tackle health, environment and equity considerations together, not to trade one off against the other. It’s not a question of choosing between a priority for “Making nutritious food more available to all Canadians” or “Supporting the growth of local and regional food production,” instead it’s important how they can be both be addressed, potentially together.

A final optional section in the survey on Guiding Principles includes some systems thinking but, again, it’s all about ranking one approach as more important than another.

There is an opportunity at the end of each theme to suggest another objective, in 50 words or less, and there is one entirely open-ended concluding question, with a 250 word limit.

FSC’s Five Big Ideas for a Better Food System and From Patchwork to Policy Coherence: Principles and Priorities of Canada’s National Food Policy are good sources of ideas and inspiration for these questions. For example, why not write in the human right to food, making food a part of reconciliation, or seeding social innovation through adaptive policy?

FSC believes that every Canadian should be able to put healthy, affordable, sustainably grown food on their table. Make your voice heard before July 27, 2017.

In addition to the survey, consultations include a Food Summit hosted in Ottawa June 22-23, five or six regional events still to be announced, and potentially a number of community events, webinars and food movement briefings facilitated by FSC. Stay tuned for details.

Find the online survey here.

Growing Food & Education – getting more local food into our schools

Girl holding food tray in school cafeteria

PEI Food Security Network Panel Discussion and AGM

Thursday, May 18th,  2 – 5 pm
Prince Edward Island Farm Centre
University Ave, Charlottetown

With presenters who have a passion for getting healthy, local food on the plates of students:

Bev Campbell, Chef at Queen Elizabeth Elementary School
Sarah Bennetto O’Brien, PEI Handpie Company
Kyle Panton – Chef and Farmer
Kent MacDonald – Gordon Food Services

Panel presentations will be followed by a general discussion and a very short annual meeting.

Many Islanders are embracing “buy local” campaigns by going to farmers’ markets and participating in CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). At the same time there is interest in getting more locally-produced food on the menu in provincial institutions such as schools and healthcare facilities. Many communities and producers are responding with creative school food programs and initiatives to increase awareness of growing food as well as to improve local food access for children and their families. Given this growing interest in local procurement from producers, government and consumers, we invite the community to discuss the opportunities and challenges of providing local food products in Island schools.

Please join us for what is bound to be a lively discussion. Everyone welcome!

TransPacific Partnership Threatens Food Sovereignty

imagesAlthough the future of the TransPacific Partnership is not at all certain, given the result of the November 8 US election, activists in Canada and abroad continue to keep the pressure on governments, demanding that the deal be scrapped on the basis of its inclusion, among other things, of Investor State Dispute provisions, expansion of patent protection and impacts on dairy farmers.

The House of Commons International Trade Committee visited PEI in October and heard from Trade Justice PEI (of which the Food Security Network is a member), the National Farmers Union and the Environmental Coalition of PEI (both members of the PEI FSN).

The Food Security Network submitted its concerns in writing to the committee. Those concerns included:

  • Promotion of industrial agriculture and harmful environmental effects of potato monoculture
  • Interference with supply management and losses to dairy farmers
  • The effects on democracy and the environment of the Investor/State Dispute System

You can read the whole submission here: PEI FSN Submission – TPP 2016.