MLFPC: Promoting equitable, sustainable, and economically viable food systems in London
The SDG Cities Academy is a supported, peer-to-peer training opportunity developed and delivered by SDG Cities. The course offered organizations, businesses and individuals a chance to deepen their knowledge about the SDGs and learn how to apply the principles and practices of the framework at the local level. As part of the training Academy participants explore alignment of their work with the SDGs and dig into their local impact.
Current food systems, including production, farming, processing and supply chains, have an immense ecological impact on our planet, contributing to climate change and threatening our access to healthy and nutritious food. Good nutrition matters at every stage of our lives and our health and well-being depend on it. By better understanding the important role food systems play in our communities as well as learning and collaborating with different sectors, it is possible to deliver good nutrition and a healthier planet for everyone.
The Middlesex London Food Policy Council (MLFPC) started in 2016 and is composed of members representing several different interlinking components of the food system, including production, distribution, policy making and education. Working together, the members of MLFPC aim to foster cross-sector collaboration and address challenges and opportunities within local food systems. In addition, the MLFPC promotes a healthy, safe, equitable, ecologically responsible, and economically viable food systems in various ways, such as its work in food policy and advocacy as well as with classroom education programs. The main goals of the MLFPC are to strengthen, build capacity and meaningful engagement, and to create purposeful impact on the local food system.
Linking Food Systems to the SDGs
The cross-cutting nature of MLFPC’s work means that it has been working towards a broad set of SDGs including SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, and 12. One particular focus of the MLFPC has been bringing together a diverse set of actors from across the community to share their expertise on different aspects of the Middlesex-London food system. The MLFPC relies on community participation as residents of the community provide invaluable knowledge, skills and perspectives that cannot be captured by other actors. Through the process of community engagement, the challenges associated with local food systems can be addressed and empower individuals within the community. The collaborative approach of the MLFPC deeply reflects the interconnectedness of the SDGs, highlighting the importance of collective effort in achieving the SDGs.
Lella Blumer, a member of the Executive Committee at MLFPC, says that “by attending the SDG Academy, it allowed her organization to integrate the SDGs and look beyond the obvious connections.” The SDG Academy also helped to align MLFPC goals and objectives to the SDG framework and offered a more focused approach dealing with prioritization of certain issues surrounding food systems. Lella emphasizes that “it is easy for councils to get side tracked since there are so many issues. I wondered if it would be helpful to use SDG as a framework and show the interconnection between different aspects which could provide a particular focus with respect to indicator reporting. We hope that this will give us a solid foundation to work on and something concrete so it feels like we are not doing this in isolation.”
The MLFPC also focuses on food policy and advocacy by raising awareness of existing food policies in Middlesex-London, including: policies that support the development of a local sustainable food system, education programs highlighting the importance of the local food system, food democracy and/or food sovereignty. The Council challenges policies that do not support the local food system and advocate for innovative policy change that support local food system development. The Beyond Waste: Food Recovery & Redistribution Forum (hereafter referred to as “the Beyond Waste Forum”), is an initiative of the Middlesex-London Food Policy Council (MLFPC), in collaboration with Hospitality Services at Western University, with funding from the Healthy Kids Community Challenge (HKCC). This event was hosted in 2018 with the objective of connecting businesses possessing surplus food with social agencies serving people who would benefit from access to this food, thereby reducing food waste and hunger in the city of London. Moreover, the Beyond Waste Forum shed light on key policy trends with regards to global food waste prevention to catalyze the City’s work on enhancing food accessibility and minimizing food waste.
School Food Program
As part of the Coalition for Healthy School Food, the MLFPC helps to build momentum across Canada and in Ontario to establish a school food program for students in K-12. Together, the MLFPC along with other organizations and members across Canada are seeking federal investment in a Universal Healthy School Food Program to support the health, well-being and education of all Canadian children. Canada needs national standards developed in partnership and collaboration with the community and stakeholders from diverse regions and sectors across Ontario to ensure strong educational programs that promote health and sustainable food systems. The MLFPC helps to secure a brighter future for our children through a universal healthy school food program.
“The SDG framework allows for more focused conversations, discussions, and actions without losing sight of the bigger picture.”Lella Blumer, member of the Executive Committee at MLFPC
If you are interested in learning more, please visit MLFPC’s website: https://mlfpc.ca/ or listen to MLFPC’s former Chair, Benjamin Hill, in this podcast episode from the London Community Foundation at: https://www.lcf.on.ca/whatlondoncanbe/2021/7/20/episode-10-benjamin-hill