With food security continuing to be an issue in the city, the Food Coalition is coming up with solutions.
© Herald photo by Jodi Schellenberg
Members of the Prince Albert Food Coalition discuss what some of their goals should be during a meeting on Thursday.
The Food Coalition met at the Bernice Sayese Centre on Thursday, to discuss more ways to help with food security.
“We have had two previous events where we have invited people to give their opinions,” member Rick Sawa said. “We sent out a survey that was answered by 29 groups around the city about food security issues.”
They then gathered together to come with ways to deal with the four issues that came out of the survey -- needs and challenges, education and awareness, funding and collaboration.
“We got all that information and we put it into a document,” Sawa said. “Today we got together to pick three or four things that we can do to further food security in Prince Albert and they had to be doable goals.”
They went through a planning process, facilitator Reg Beardsworth explained.
“We looked at food security in P.A. and first talked about what the ideal would be, what would a food secure P.A. look like,” he said. “Then we spent time looking at what is blocking us from reaching that goal.”
The group identified a list of realistic goals they could accomplish, he added.
“We had now come up with our list and we have now asked people to put their names beside them that are willing to work towards these goals,” Sawa said. “Our goal is to have chosen goals that we think we can actually do.”
One of the items on the list was to hold a key event, such as an integrated community dinner open to everyone, Sawa said.
“We’d have presentations about food security,” he said. “That would be one thing to bring people together and hopefully the people that are here together as well as people who are affected by food security.”
The Food Coalition also has to work finding a better way to share their information with the public.
“We have heard about the United Way 211.ca website that we can put all of our information into there,” Sawa said. “There are all sorts of groups in town that are doing all kinds of different things and sometimes people don’t know what other groups are doing.
“This website would be great for us and it would be in such a way that you could print things off, like where can you get food in Prince Albert on a Saturday,” he added.
One goal they have already started to work on is increasing local food production with the community garden, funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
“Nothing is planted yet, but it has been plowed and the plots have been marked,” Sawa said. “The next thing that has to happen is the planting. We are going to increase local food production.”
They hope to complete the goals within one year. Those that aren’t completed will come back to the board later.
“We wanted them to be doable -- not pie in the sky, eliminate poverty overnight,” Sawa said. “If we eliminated poverty, we wouldn’t have food security issues but we know we can’t do that over night. We picked things that will work towards food security that we can actually do.”
They will have meetings periodically throughout the year to track their progress and then will have another meeting to examine the goals.
“At the end of the year we are going to come together and say, ‘This is what we said we would do this year. How did we do?’” Sawa said. “Some goals might not have been accomplished and might need another year.
“At that time we will sit down again and say, ‘What are three or four more things we can do?’ Some of them might be ones we have not finished. Our goal is to have a more food secure Prince Albert.”
Food security is a very important issue in the community because there are too many people in the city who are not eating enough nutritious food, Sawa said.
“We have a food bank that is stressed many times by the number of people that don’t have enough food to make it through the month,” Sawa said. “Rents are high -- oftentimes people have a chose of having a place to live or to eat, so they have to pay their rent so they go to the food bank to get food.”
Since food is important and many people think of having it as a right, Sawa asked why so many people don’t have enough food?
“We see the issues in Prince Albert and we are not alone, we are not unique,” he said. “It is all over the world that we have people (without food).”
There are even issues with children not receiving enough food, Sawa explained.
“We, in schools, have to feed kids even though our role is to teach kids but we’ve learned if they don’t eat they aren’t going to learn,” he said. “It is like a car -- you don’t put gas in it, it is not going to run.”
The Food Coalition hopes to continue tackling the issue of food security in the future, as they have in the past.
“We’ve looked at different issues and attacked it from different points of view,” Sawa said. “We still continue to meet because there is a group of people who are really concerned about food security and feel like they have some idea of how to make it a better place to live.”
The meeting on Thursday was great, Sawa said.
“People are enthusiastic, people here are all concerned about food security and people have ideas about how we can make it better,” he said. “People know why it is the way it is. It was a very successful day.”