Government pledges $2 million towards community-based food projects

Federal minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the local food infrastructure fund will support community organizations to relieve food insecurities

The photo is a close-up picture on multiple piles of fresh vegetables. In the picture are onions, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and squash.
Bibeau toured the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, which has recently increased food storage capacity by 3,400 cubic feet. PHOTO: Mark Stebnicki / Pexels

By: Chloë Arneson, News Writer

On May 25, the federal minister of agriculture and agri-food Marie-Claude Bibeau announced up to $2 million from the local food infrastructure fund (LFIF) will be put towards 38 projects across the province. 

The fund offers grants to charitable organisations, Indigenous groups, not-for-profit cooperatives, and small municipalities. Over the course of five years, $60 million will be put towards sustainable and health-conscience food systems. 

The government of Canada released the news on their website, expressing the need for these community based projects. They stated, “All Canadians, regardless of where they live, deserve to have access to safe and nutritious food.” Pricing varies according to each region and the cost of food can be significantly higher in Northern and remote areas in Canada due to isolation and socioeconomic challenges. Northern areas are geographically disadvantaged because transport cost of food dramatically increases food prices. In Nunavut, where 86% of residents are Indigenous, the same bottle of juice that costs $6.79 in the Lower Mainland costs $34.99. The press release called for regionally tailored solutions. 

By providing the funding for communities to build their own food systems that meet their needs, the government stated they are “committed to working with community-based food security organisations to ensure they have access to the necessary tools that help them to meet the increasing and immediate needs of people experiencing food insecurity.”

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank is one of the organisations that received funding from the LFIF’s previous round of grants. They have recently installed a new walk-in fridge and freezer at their downtown Vancouver location. The Greater Vancouver Food Bank currently serves over 10,000 individuals and families in need of support every month. 

David Long, CEO of Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, expressed the donation from the LFIF was urgently needed. “We are seeing a record-breaking number of new clients seeking our support each month,” said Long. “This infrastructure support from the federal government came at a time when we needed it the most.”

Because of COVID-19, many Vancouver residents faced food insecurity that continued throughout the course of the pandemic. In addition to limited delivery options, many of the city’s food services were shut down, which restricted access to affordable healthy food. Losing employment as well as inequities that disproportionately affect disabled people and BIPOC individuals contributed to the effects of this insecurity. According to The Cloverdale Reporter, the pandemic caused mostly low-wage workers to lose their jobs. These jobs are primarily held by women and people of colour. 

Applications for funding from the LFIF are being accepted until July 15, 2022. 

For more information about the Local Food Infrastructure Fund, you can visit their website or call 1-877-246-4682.