Written by Denise Deby.

Ready to garden (for sale at Westboro Farmers' Market) - D. Deby

There are so many exciting things happening on the sustainable food front in Ottawa that it’s hard to keep track of them all: urban farming, food-producing gardens and trees, healthy food in schools and more. In the next couple of posts I’ll highlight some of the initiatives underway.

First, an excellent opportunity to get an overview of food issues happens on Monday, Feb. 4, 2013 when Carleton University hosts a panel discussion called “Putting Our Money Where Our Mouths Are: The Federal Budget and Food Insecurity.” Speakers who’ll be sharing their insights and recommendations are Diana Bronson of Food Secure Canada, Cathleen Kneen of Just Food Ottawa, Peter Andrée of Carleton and Terry Audla of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. Stephen Huddart of the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation will chair the discussion.

The idea is this: although eating is pretty basic to all of us, four million Canadians don’t get enough to eat, and Canada has no comprehensive food policy that addresses the systems in place for growing and distributing food, and for ensuring that people have access to sustainable and healthy food choices. People working on food security see the upcoming federal budget as a chance to address these in a more systematic way.

So Food Secure Canada and Carleton University’s new Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement initiative are hosting the panel to identify policies, programs and expenditures that might help. It’s on Monday, Feb. 4 from 9:30-11 a.m. on the 2nd floor, River Building Conference Rooms at Carleton.

Fortunately, if you can’t make it in person, you can catch the live stream on the Carleton homepage at www.carleton.ca.

The event also launches the Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement program. As I understand it, the program aims to strengthen communities by drawing on research and community-university partnerships. They’re focusing on poverty reduction, community food security, community environmental sustainability, violence against women and knowledge mobilization (i.e., using the results of research). There are some dynamic people involved and it’s bound to be an interesting initiative to watch.

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