Halifax regional council unanimously passed a motion to the sound of applause Tuesday, cementing its commitment to fighting food insecurity in the municipality, including a $60,000 boost to help fund food initiatives.
Put forward by Lindell Smith, councillor for Halifax's north end, it includes a formal commitment to the Halifax Food Policy Alliance (HFPA), a partnership of organizations and individuals in the food system who are working to end food insecurity in Halifax.
The move commits council to work with the HFPA for the next two years in developing a Halifax Food Action Plan, and will provide funding through the 2020-2021 budget to support initiatives stemming from this plan.
"The first iteration of the motion was to create a food charter, and to look at geographics and mapping and all that, and once they dug into it they realized there needs to be more," Smith told HalifaxToday.ca. "Because there's no other data or people really focusing on that."
The data Smith is referring to, is information about food insecurity and which communities are most affected. Smith's own district is thought to be home to some of the most at-risk homes with regards to food.
Part of the financial contribution will go towards studying where help is most needed, and what that help might look like.
"If we're contributing financially, then we need to make sure there's an agreement that the time we spent is on the food work," Smith said. "It's not to create another coalition, it's really just to make sure the resources are there so the work can get done meaningfully.".
Part of the motion passed includes a formal agreement to consider food security a part of the council's 2019/2020 Council Priority Outcome, a list of goals that council agrees to work towards. This means that the issue of food security will be embedded in the goals of council for the next two years regardless of who sits on council after next October's vote.
In a news release sent out shortly after council passed the motion, co-chair of the HFPA and municipal food policy coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, Wesley Petite, sums up the need for this action.
"Healthy eating isn't always easy or affordable in Halifax," says Petite. "As of 2014, one in seven households had experienced food insecurity."
Petite is hopeful this will address some of the problems with our current food system.
With the formal agreements from council in place and a plan of action about to be under development, this issue is expected to be fully supported by council in the years to come.
Council will meet again on December 10th.